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The Decameron, Vol. II. by Giovanni Boccaccio

Part 5 out of 7

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confronted with Zeppa, knowing that Zeppa wist what he had done, or the
lady to meet her husband's eyes, knowing that he had heard what went on
above his head. "Lo, here is the jewel I give thee," quoth Zeppa to her,
pointing to Spinelloccio, who, as he came forth of the chest, blurted
out:--"Zeppa, we are quits, and so 'twere best, as thou saidst a while
ago to my wife, that we still be friends as we were wont, and as we had
nought separate, save our wives, that henceforth we have them also in
common." "Content," quoth Zeppa; and so in perfect peace and accord they
all four breakfasted together. And thenceforth each of the ladies had two
husbands, and each of the husbands two wives; nor was there ever the
least dispute or contention between them on that score.

(1) A suburb of Siena.


Bruno and Buffalmacco prevail upon Master Simone, a physician, to betake
him by night to a certain place, there to be enrolled in a company that
go the course. Buffalmacco throws him into a foul ditch, and there they
leave him.

When the ladies had made merry a while over the partnership in wives
established by the two Sienese, the queen, who now, unless she were
minded to infringe Dioneo's privilege, alone remained to tell, began on
this wise:--Fairly earned indeed, loving ladies, was the flout that
Spinelloccio got from Zeppa. Wherefore my judgment jumps with that which
Pampinea expressed a while ago, to wit, that he is not severely to be
censured who bestows a flout on one that provokes it or deserves it; and
as Spinelloccio deserved it, so 'tis my purpose to tell you of one that
provoked it, for I deem that those from whom he received it, were rather
to be commended than condemned. The man that got it was a physician, who,
albeit he was but a blockhead, returned from Bologna to Florence in
mantle and hood of vair.

'Tis matter of daily experience that our citizens come back to us from
Bologna, this man a judge, that a physician, and the other a notary,
flaunting it in ample flowing robes, and adorned with the scarlet and the
vair and other array most goodly to see; and how far their doings
correspond with this fair seeming, is also matter of daily experience.
Among whom 'tis not long since Master Simone da Villa, one whose
patrimony was more ample than his knowledge, came back wearing the
scarlet and a broad stripe(1) on the shoulder, and a doctor, as he called
himself, and took a house in the street that we now call Via del
Cocomero. Now this Master Simone, being thus, as we said, come back, had
this among other singular habits, that he could never see a soul pass
along the street, but he must needs ask any that was by, who that man
was; and he was as observant of all the doings of men, and as sedulous to
store his memory with such matters, as if they were to serve him to
compound the drugs that he was to give his patients. Now, of all that he
saw, those that he eyed most observantly were two painters, of whom here
to-day mention has twice been made, Bruno, to wit, and Buffalmacco, who
were ever together, and were his neighbours. And as it struck him that
they daffed the world aside and lived more lightheartedly than any others
that he knew, as indeed they did, he enquired of not a few folk as to
their rank. And learning on all hands that they were poor men and
painters, he could not conceive it possible that they should live thus
contentedly in poverty, but made his mind up that, being, as he was
informed, clever fellows, they must have some secret source from which
they drew immense gains; for which reason he grew all agog to get on
friendly terms with them, or any rate with one of them, and did succeed
in making friends with Bruno.

Bruno, who had not needed to be much with him in order to discover that
this physician was but a dolt, had never such a jolly time in palming off
his strange stories upon him, while the physician, on his part, was
marvellously delighted with Bruno; to whom, having bidden him to
breakfast, and thinking that for that reason he might talk familiarly
with him, he expressed the amazement with which he regarded both him and
Buffalmacco, for that, being but poor men, they lived so lightheartedly,
and asked him to tell him how they managed. At which fresh proof of the
doctor's simplicity and fatuity Bruno was inclined to laugh; but,
bethinking him that 'twere best to answer him according to his folly, he
said:--"Master, there are not many persons to whom I would disclose our
manner of life, but, as you are my friend, and I know you will not let it
go further, I do not mind telling you. The fact is that my comrade and I
live not only as lightheartedly and jovially as you see, but much more
so; and yet neither our art, nor any property that we possess, yields us
enough to keep us in water: not that I would have you suppose that we go
a thieving: no, 'tis that we go the course, and thereby without the least
harm done to a soul we get all that we need, nay, all that we desire; and
thus it is that we live so lightheartedly as you see." Which explanation
the doctor believing none the less readily that he knew not what it
meant, was lost in wonder, and forthwith burned with a most vehement
desire to know what going the course might be, and was instant with Bruno
to expound it, assuring him that he would never tell a soul. "Alas!
Master," said Bruno, "what is this you ask of me? 'Tis a mighty great
secret you would have me impart to you: 'twould be enough to undo me, to
send me packing out of the world, nay, into the very jaws of Lucifer of
San Gallo,(2) if it came to be known. But such is the respect in which I
hold your quiditative pumpionship of Legnaia, and the trust I repose in
you, that I am not able to deny you aught you ask of me; and so I will
tell it you, on condition that you swear by the cross at Montesone that
you will keep your promise, and never repeat it to a soul."

The Master gave the required assurance. Whereupon:--"You are then to
know," quoth Bruno, "sweet my Master, that 'tis not long since there was
in this city a great master in necromancy, hight Michael Scott, for that
he was of Scotland, and great indeed was the honour in which he was held
by not a few gentlemen, most of whom are now dead; and when the time came
that he must needs depart from Florence, he at their instant entreaty
left behind him two pupils, adepts both, whom he bade hold themselves
ever ready to pleasure those gentlemen who had done him honour. And very
handsomely they did serve the said gentlemen in certain of their love
affairs and other little matters; and finding the city and the manners of
the citizens agreeable to them, they made up their minds to stay here
always, and grew friendly and very intimate with some of the citizens,
making no distinction between gentle and simple, rich or poor, so only
they were such as were conformable to their ways. And to gratify these
their friends they formed a company of perhaps twenty-five men, to meet
together at least twice a month in a place appointed by them; where, when
they are met, each utters his desire, and forthwith that same night they
accomplish it. Now Buffalmacco and I, being extraordinarily great and
close friends with these two adepts, were by them enrolled in this
company, and are still members of it. And I assure you that, as often as
we are assembled together, the adornments of the saloon in which we eat
are a marvel to see, ay, and the tables laid as for kings, and the
multitudes of stately and handsome servants, as well women as men, at the
beck and call of every member of the company, and the basins, and the
ewers, the flasks and the cups, and all else that is there for our
service in eating and drinking, of nought but gold and silver, and
therewithal the abundance and variety of the viands, suited to the taste
of each, that are set before us, each in due course, these too be
marvels. 'Twere vain for me to seek to describe to you the sweet concord
that is there of innumerable instruments of music, and the tuneful songs
that salute our ears; nor might I hope to tell you how much wax is burned
at these banquets, or compute the quantity of the comfits that are eaten,
or the value of the wines that are drunk. Nor, my pumpkin o' wit, would I
have you suppose that, when we are there, we wear our common clothes,
such as you now see me wear; nay, there is none there so humble but he
shews as an emperor, so sumptuous are our garments, so splendid our
trappings. But among all the delights of the place none may compare with
the fair ladies, who, so one do but wish, are brought thither from every
part of the world. Why, you might see there My Lady of the Barbanichs,
the Queen of the Basques, the Consort of the Soldan, the Empress of
Osbech, the Ciancianfera of Nornieca, the Semistante of Berlinzone, and
the Scalpedra of Narsia. But why seek to enumerate them all? They include
all the queens in the world, ay, even to the Schinchimurra of Prester
John, who has the horns sprouting out of her nether end: so there's for
you. Now when these ladies have done with the wine and the comfits, they
tread a measure or two, each with the man at whose behest she is come,
and then all go with their gallants to their chambers. And know that each
of these chambers shews as a very Paradise, so fair is it, ay, and no
less fragrant than the cases of aromatics in your shop when you are
pounding the cumin: and therein are beds that you would find more goodly
than that of the Doge of Venice, and 'tis in them we take our rest; and
how busily they ply the treadle, and how lustily they tug at the frame to
make the stuff close and compact, I leave you to imagine. However, among
the luckiest of all I reckon Buffalmacco and myself; for that Buffalmacco
for the most part fetches him the Queen of France, and I do the like with
the Queen of England, who are just the finest women in the world, and we
have known how to carry it with them so that we are the very eyes of
their heads. So I leave it to your own judgment to determine whether we
have not good cause to live and bear ourselves with a lighter heart than
others, seeing that we are beloved of two such great queens, to say
nothing of the thousand or two thousand florins that we have of them
whenever we are so minded. Now this in the vulgar we call going the
course, because, as the corsairs prey upon all the world, so do we;
albeit with this difference, that, whereas they never restore their
spoil, we do so as soon as we have done with it. So now, my worthy
Master, you understand what we mean by going the course; but how close it
behoves you to keep such a secret, you may see for yourself; so I spare
you any further exhortations."

The Master, whose skill did not reach, perhaps, beyond the treatment of
children for the scurf, took all that Bruno said for gospel, and burned
with so vehement a desire to be admitted into this company, that he could
not have longed for the summum bonum itself with more ardour. So, after
telling Bruno that indeed 'twas no wonder they bore them lightheartedly,
he could scarce refrain from asking him there and then to have him
enrolled, albeit he deemed it more prudent to defer his suit, until by
lavishing honour upon him he had gained a right to urge it with more
confidence. He therefore made more and more of him, had him to breakfast
and sup with him, and treated him with extraordinary respect. In short,
such and so constant was their intercourse that it seemed as though the
Master wist not how to live without Bruno. As it went so well with him,
Bruno, to mark his sense of the honour done him by the doctor, painted in
his saloon a picture symbolical of Lent, and an Agnus Dei at the entrance
of his chamber, and an alembic over his front door, that those who would
fain consult him might know him from other physicians, besides a battle
of rats and mice in his little gallery, which the doctor thought an
extremely fine piece. And from time to time, when he had not supped with
the Master, he would say to him:--"Last night I was with the company, and
being a little tired of the Queen of England, I fetched me the Gumedra of
the great Can of Tarisi." "Gumedra," quoth the Master; "what is she? I
know not the meaning of these words." "Thereat, Master," replied Bruno,
"I marvel not; for I have heard tell that neither Porcograsso nor
Vannacena say aught thereof." "Thou wouldst say Ippocrasso and Avicenna,"
returned the Master. "I'faith I know not," quoth Bruno. "I as ill know
the meaning of your words as you of mine. But Gumedra in the speech of
the great Can signifies the same as Empress in ours. Ah! a fine woman you
would find her, and plenty of her! I warrant she would make you forget
your drugs and prescriptions and plasters." And so, Bruno from time to
time whetting the Master's appetite, and the Master at length thinking
that by his honourable entreatment of him he had fairly made a conquest
of Bruno, it befell that one evening, while he held the light for Bruno,
who was at work on the battle of rats and mice, he determined to discover
to him his desire; and as they were alone, thus he spoke:--"God knows,
Bruno, that there lives not the man, for whom I would do as much as for
thee: why, if thou wast to bid me go all the way from here to
Peretola,(3) I almost think I would do so; wherefore I trust thou wilt
not deem it strange if I talk to thee as an intimate friend and in
confidence. Thou knowest 'tis not long since thou didst enlarge with me
on thy gay company and their doings, which has engendered in me such a
desire as never was to know more thereof. Nor without reason, as thou
wilt discover, should I ever become a member of the said company, for I
straightway give thee leave to make game of me, should I not then fetch
me the fairest maid thou hast seen this many a day, whom I saw last year
at Cacavincigli, and to whom I am entirely devoted; and by the body of
Christ I offered her ten Bolognese groats, that she should pleasure me,
and she would not. Wherefore I do most earnestly entreat thee to instruct
me what I must do to fit myself for membership in the company; and never
doubt that in me you will have a true and loyal comrade, and one that
will do you honour. And above all thou seest how goodly I am of my
person, and how well furnished with legs, and of face as fresh as a rose;
and therewithal I am a doctor of medicine, and I scarce think you have
any such among you; and not a little excellent lore I have, and many a
good song by heart, of which I will sing thee one;" and forthwith he fell
a singing.

Bruno had such a mind to laugh, that he could scarce contain himself; but
still he kept a grave countenance; and, when the Master had ended his
song, and said:--"How likes it thee?" he answered:--"Verily, no lyre of
straw could vie with you, so artargutically(4) you refine your strain."
"I warrant thee," returned the Master, "thou hadst never believed it,
hadst thou not heard me." "Ay, indeed, sooth sayst thou," quoth Bruno.
"And I have other songs to boot," said the Master; "but enough of this at
present. Thou must know that I, such as thou seest me, am a gentleman's
son, albeit my father lived in the contado; and on my mother's side I
come of the Vallecchio family. And as thou mayst have observed I have
quite the finest library and wardrobe of all the physicians in Florence.
God's faith! I have a robe that cost, all told, close upon a hundred
pounds in bagattines(5) more than ten years ago. Wherefore I make most
instant suit to thee that thou get me enrolled, which if thou do, God's
faith! be thou never so ill, thou shalt pay me not a stiver for my
tendance of thee." Whereupon Bruno, repeating to himself, as he had done
many a time before, that the doctor was a very numskull:--"Master," quoth
he, "shew a little more light here, and have patience until I have put
the finishing touches to the tails of these rats, and then I will answer
you." So he finished the tails, and then, putting on an air as if he were
not a little embarrassed by the request:--"Master mine," quoth he, "I
should have great things to expect from you; that I know: but yet what
you ask of me, albeit to your great mind it seems but a little thing, is
a weighty matter indeed for me; nor know I a soul in the world, to whom,
though well able, I would grant such a request, save to you alone: and
this I say not for friendship's sake alone, albeit I love you as I ought,
but for that your discourse is so fraught with wisdom, that 'tis enough
to make a beguine start out of her boots, much more, then, to incline me
to change my purpose; and the more I have of your company, the wiser I
repute you. Whereto I may add, that, if for no other cause, I should
still be well disposed towards you for the love I see you bear to that
fair piece of flesh of which you spoke but now. But this I must tell you:
'tis not in my power to do as you would have me in this matter; but,
though I cannot myself do the needful in your behalf, if you will pledge
your faith, whole and solid as may be, to keep my secret, I will shew you
how to go about it for yourself, and I make no doubt that, having this
fine library and the other matters you spoke of a while ago, you will
compass your end." Quoth then the Master:--"Nay, but speak freely; I see
thou dost yet scarce know me, and how well I can keep a secret. There
were few things that Messer Guasparruolo da Saliceto did, when he was
Podesta of Forlinpopoli, that he did not confide to me, so safe he knew
they would be in my keeping: and wouldst thou be satisfied that I say
sooth? I assure you I was the first man whom he told that he was about to
marry Bergamina: so there's for thee." "Well and good," said Bruno, "if
such as he confided in you, well indeed may I do the like. Know, then,
that you will have to proceed on this wise:--Our company is governed by a
captain and a council of two, who are changed every six months: and on
the calends without fail Buffalmacco will be captain, and I councillor:
'tis so fixed: and the captain has not a little power to promote the
admission and enrolment of whomsoever he will: wherefore, methinks, you
would do well to make friends with Buffalmacco and honourably entreat
him: he is one that, marking your great wisdom, will take a mighty liking
to you forthwith; and when you have just a little dazzled him with your
wisdom and these fine things of yours, you may make your request to him;
and he will not know how to say no--I have already talked with him of
you, and he is as well disposed to you as may be--and having so done you
will leave the rest to me." Whereupon:--"Thy words are to me for an
exceeding great joy," quoth the Master: "and if he be one that loves to
converse with sages, he has but to exchange a word or two with me, and I
will answer for it that he will be ever coming to see me; for so fraught
with wisdom am I, that I could furnish a whole city therewith, and still
remain a great sage."

Having thus set matters in train, Bruno related the whole affair, point
by point, to Buffalmacco, to whom it seemed a thousand years till he
should be able to give Master Noodle that of which he was in quest. The
doctor, now all agog to go the course, lost no time, and found no
difficulty, in making friends with Buffalmacco, and fell to entertaining
him, and Bruno likewise, at breakfast and supper in most magnificent
style; while they fooled him to the top of his bent; for, being gentlemen
that appreciated excellent wines and fat capons, besides other good cheer
in plenty, they were inclined to be very neighbourly, and needed no
second bidding, but, always letting him understand that there was none
other whose company they relished so much, kept ever with him.

However, in due time the Master asked of Buffalmacco that which he had
before asked of Bruno. Whereat Buffalmacco feigned to be not a little
agitated, and turning angrily to Bruno, made a great pother about his
ears, saying:--"By the Most High God of Pasignano I vow I can scarce
forbear to give thee that over the head that should make thy nose fall
about thy heels, traitor that thou art, for 'tis thou alone that canst
have discovered these secrets to the Master." Whereupon the Master
interposed with no little vigour, averring with oaths that 'twas from
another source that he had gotten his knowledge; and Buffalmacco at
length allowed himself to be pacified by the sage's words. So turning to
him:--"Master," quoth he, "'tis evident indeed that you have been at
Bologna, and have come back hither with a mouth that blabs not, and that
'twas on no pippin, as many a dolt does, but on the good long pumpkin
that you learned your A B C; and, if I mistake not, you were baptized on
a Sunday;(6) and though Bruno has told me that 'twas medicine you studied
there, 'tis my opinion that you there studied the art of catching men, of
which, what with your wisdom and your startling revelations, you are the
greatest master that ever I knew." He would have said more, but the
doctor, turning to Bruno, broke in with:--"Ah! what it is to consort and
converse with the wise! Who but this worthy man would thus have read my
mind through and through? Less quick by far to rate me at my true worth
wast thou. But what said I when thou toldst me that Buffalmacco delighted
to converse with sages? Confess now; have I not kept my word?" "Verily,"
quoth Bruno, "you have more than kept it." Then, addressing
Buffalmacco:--"Ah!" cried the Master, "what hadst thou said, hadst thou
seen me at Bologna, where there was none, great or small, doctor or
scholar, but was devoted to me, so well wist I how to entertain them with
my words of wisdom. Nay more; let me tell thee that there was never a
word I spoke but set every one a laughing, so great was the pleasure it
gave them. And at my departure they all deplored it most bitterly, and
would have had me remain, and by way of inducement went so far as to
propose that I should be sole lecturer to all the students in medicine
that were there; which offer I declined, for that I was minded to return
hither, having vast estates here, that have ever belonged to my family;
which, accordingly, I did." Quoth then Bruno to Buffalmacco:--"How shews
it, now, man? Thou didst not believe me when I told thee what he was. By
the Gospels there is never a physician in this city that has the lore of
ass's urine by heart as he has: verily, thou wouldst not find his like
between here and the gates of Paris. Now see if thou canst help doing as
he would have thee." "'Tis even as Bruno says," observed the doctor, "but
I am not understood here. You Florentines are somewhat slow of wit. Would
you could see me in my proper element, among a company of doctors!"
Whereupon:--"Of a truth, Master," quoth Buffalmacco, "your lore far
exceeds any I should ever have imputed to you; wherefore, addressing you
as 'tis meet to address a man of your wisdom, I give you disjointedly to
understand that without fail I will procure your enrolment in our

After this promise the honours lavished by the doctor upon the two men
grew and multiplied; in return for which they diverted themselves by
setting him a prancing upon every wildest chimera in the world; and
promised, among other matters, to give him by way of mistress, the
Countess of Civillari,(7) whom they averred to be the goodliest creature
to be found in all the Netherlands of the human race; and the doctor
asking who this Countess might be:--"Mature my gherkin," quoth
Buffalmacco, "she is indeed a very great lady, and few houses are there
in the world in which she has not some jurisdiction; nay, the very Friars
Minors, to say nought of other folk, pay her tribute to the sound of the
kettle-drum. And I may tell you that, when she goes abroad, she makes her
presence very sensibly felt, albeit for the most part she keeps herself
close: however, 'tis no great while since she passed by your door one
night on her way to the Arno to bathe her feet and get a breath of air;
but most of her time she abides at Laterina.(8) Serjeants has she not a
few that go their rounds at short intervals, bearing, one and all, the
rod and the bucket in token of her sovereignty, and barons in plenty in
all parts, as Tamagnino della Porta,(9) Don Meta,(10) Manico di
Scopa,(11) Squacchera,(12) and others, with whom I doubt not you are
intimately acquainted, though you may not just now bear them in mind.
Such, then, is the great lady, in whose soft arms we, if we delude not
ourselves, will certainly place you, in which case you may well dispense
with her of Cacavincigli."

The doctor, who had been born and bred at Bologna, and understood not
their words, found the lady quite to his mind; and shortly afterwards the
painters brought him tidings of his election into the company. Then came
the day of the nocturnal gathering, and the doctor had the two men to
breakfast; and when they had breakfasted, he asked them after what manner
he was to join the company. Whereupon:--"Lo, now, Master," quoth
Buffalmacco, "you have need of a stout heart; otherwise you may meet with
some let, to our most grievous hurt; and for what cause you have need of
this stout heart, you shall hear. You must contrive to be to-night about
the hour of first sleep on one of the raised tombs that have been lately
placed outside of Santa Maria Novella; and mind that you wear one of your
best gowns, that your first appearance may impress the company with a
proper sense of your dignity, and also because, as we are informed, for
we were not present at the time, the Countess, by reason that you are a
gentleman, is minded to make you a Knight of the Bath at her own charges.
So you will wait there, until one, whom we shall send, come for you: who,
that you may know exactly what you have to expect, will be a beast black
and horned, of no great size; and he will go snorting and bounding amain
about the piazza in front of you, with intent to terrify you; but, when
he perceives that you are not afraid, he will draw nigh you quietly, and
when he is close by you, then get you down from the tomb, fearing
nothing; and, minding you neither of God nor of the saints, mount him,
and when you are well set on his back, then fold your arms upon your
breast, as in submission, and touch him no more. Then, going gently, he
will bear you to us; but once mind you of God, or the saints, or give way
to fear, and I warn you, he might give you a fall, or dash you against
something that you would find scarce pleasant; wherefore, if your heart
misgives you, you were best not to come, for you would assuredly do
yourself a mischief, and us no good at all." Quoth then the doctor:--"You
know me not as yet; 'tis perchance because I wear the gloves and the long
robe that you misdoubt me. Ah! did you but know what feats I have done in
times past at Bologna, when I used to go after the women with my
comrades, you would be lost in amazement. God's faith! on one of those
nights there was one of them, a poor sickly creature she was too, and
stood not a cubit in height, who would not come with us; so first I
treated her to many a good cuff, and then I took her up by main force,
and carried her well-nigh as far as a cross-bow will send a bolt, and so
caused her, willy-nilly, come with us. And on another occasion I mind me
that, having none other with me but my servant, a little after the hour
of Ave Maria, I passed beside the cemetery of the Friars Minors, and,
though that very day a woman had been there interred, I had no fear at
all. So on this score you may make your minds easy; for indeed I am a man
of exceeding great courage and prowess. And to appear before you with due
dignity, I will don my scarlet gown, in which I took my doctor's degree,
and it remains to be seen if the company will not give me a hearty
welcome, and make me captain out of hand. Let me once be there, and you
will see how things will go; else how is it that this countess, that has
not yet seen me, is already so enamoured of me that she is minded to make
me a Knight of the Bath? And whether I shall find knighthood agreeable,
or know how to support the dignity well or ill, leave that to me."
Whereupon:--"Well said, excellent well said," quoth Buffalmacco: "but
look to it you disappoint us not, either by not coming or by not being
found, when we send for you; and this I say, because 'tis cold weather,
and you medical gentlemen take great care of your health." "God forbid,"
replied the doctor, "I am none of your chilly folk; I fear not the cold:
'tis seldom indeed, when I leave my bed a nights, to answer the call of
nature, as one must at times, that I do more than throw a pelisse over my
doublet; so rest assured that I shall be there."

So they parted; and towards nightfall the Master found a pretext for
leaving his wife, and privily got out his fine gown, which in due time he
donned, and so hied him to the tombs, and having perched himself on one
of them, huddled himself together, for 'twas mighty cold, to await the
coming of the beast. Meanwhile Buffalmacco, who was a tall man and
strong, provided himself with one of those dominos that were wont to be
worn in certain revels which are now gone out of fashion; and enveloped
in a black pelisse turned inside out, shewed like a bear, save that the
domino had the face of a devil, and was furnished with horns: in which
guise, Bruno following close behind to see the sport, he hied him to the
piazza of Santa Maria Novella. And no sooner wist he that the Master was
on the tomb, than he fell a careering in a most wild and furious manner
to and fro the piazza, and snorting and bellowing and gibbering like one
demented, insomuch that, as soon as the Master was ware of him, each
several hair on his head stood on end, and he fell a trembling in every
limb, being in sooth more timid than a woman, and wished himself safe at
home: but as there he was, he strove might and main to keep his spirits
up, so overmastering was his desire to see the marvels of which Bruno and
Buffalmacco had told him. However, after a while Buffalmacco allowed his
fury to abate, and came quietly up to the tomb on which the Master was,
and stood still. The Master, still all of a tremble with fear, could not
at first make up his mind, whether to get on the beast's back, or no; but
at length, doubting it might be the worse for him if he did not mount the
beast, he overcame the one dread by the aid of the other, got down from
the tomb, saying under his breath:--"God help me!" and seated himself
very comfortably on the beast's back; and then, still quaking in every
limb, he folded his arms as he had been bidden.

Buffalmacco now started, going on all-fours, at a very slow pace, in the
direction of Santa Maria della Scala, and so brought the Master within a
short distance of the Convent of the Ladies of Ripoli. Now, in that
quarter there were divers trenches, into which the husbandmen of those
parts were wont to discharge the Countess of Civillari, that she might
afterwards serve them to manure their land. Of one of which trenches, as
he came by, Buffalmacco skirted the edge, and seizing his opportunity,
raised a hand, and caught the doctor by one of his feet, and threw him
off his back and headforemost right into the trench, and then, making a
terrific noise and frantic gestures as before, went bounding off by Santa
Maria della Scala towards the field of Ognissanti, where he found Bruno,
who had betaken him thither that he might laugh at his ease; and there
the two men in high glee took their stand to observe from a distance how
the bemired doctor would behave. Finding himself in so loathsome a place,
the Master struggled might and main to raise himself and get out; and
though again and again he slipped back, and swallowed some drams of the
ordure, yet, bemired from head to foot, woebegone and crestfallen, he did
at last get out, leaving his hood behind him. Then, removing as much of
the filth as he might with his hands, knowing not what else to do, he got
him home, where, by dint of much knocking, he at last gained admittance;
and scarce was the door closed behind the malodorous Master, when Bruno
and Buffalmacco were at it, all agog to hear after what manner he would
be received by his wife. They were rewarded by hearing her give him the
soundest rating that ever bad husband got. "Ah!" quoth she, "fine doings,
these! Thou hast been with some other woman, and wast minded to make a
brave shew in thy scarlet gown. So I was not enough for thee! not enough
for thee forsooth, I that might content a crowd! Would they had choked
thee with the filth in which they have soused thee; 'twas thy fit
resting-place. Now, to think that a physician of repute, and a married
man, should go by night after strange women!" Thus, and with much more to
the like effect, while the doctor was busy washing himself, she ceased
not to torment him until midnight.

On the morrow, Bruno and Buffalmacco, having painted their bodies all
over with livid patches to give them the appearance of having been
thrashed, came to the doctor's house, and finding that he was already
risen, went in, being saluted on all hands by a foul smell, for time had
not yet served thoroughly to cleanse the house. The doctor, being
informed that they were come to see him, advanced to meet them, and bade
them good morning. Whereto Bruno and Buffalmacco, having prepared their
answer, replied:--"No good morning shall you have from us: rather we pray
God to give you bad years enough to make an end of you, seeing that there
lives no more arrant and faithless traitor. 'Tis no fault of yours, if
we, that did our best to honour and pleasure you, have not come by a
dog's death; your faithlessness has cost us to-night as many sound blows
as would more than suffice to keep an ass a trotting all the way from
here to Rome; besides which, we have been in peril of expulsion from the
company in which we arranged for your enrolment. If you doubt our words,
look but at our bodies, what a state they are in." And so, baring their
breasts they gave him a glimpse of the patches they had painted there,
and forthwith covered them up again. The doctor would have made them his
excuses, and recounted his misfortunes, and how he had been thrown into
the trench. But Buffalmacco broke in with:--"Would he had thrown you from
the bridge into the Arno! Why must you needs mind you of God and the
saints? Did we not forewarn you?" "God's faith," returned the doctor,
"that did I not." "How?" quoth Buffalmacco, "you did not? You do so above
a little; for he that we sent for you told us that you trembled like an
aspen, and knew not where you were. You have played us a sorry trick; but
never another shall do so; and as for you, we will give you such requital
thereof as you deserve." The doctor now began to crave their pardon, and
to implore them for God's sake not to expose him to shame, and used all
the eloquence at his command to make his peace with them. And if he had
honourably entreated them before, he thenceforth, for fear they should
publish his disgrace, did so much more abundantly, and courted them both
by entertaining them at his table and in other ways. And so you have
heard how wisdom is imparted to those that get it not at Bologna.

(1) The distinguishing mark of a doctor in those days. Fanfani, Vocab.
della Lingua Italiana, 1891, "Batolo."

(2) Perhaps an allusion to some frightful picture.

(3) About four miles from Florence.

(4) In the Italian "artagoticamente," a word of Boccaccio's own minting.

(5) A Venetian coin of extremely low value, being reckoned as 1/4 of the
Florentine quattrino.

(6) I.e. without salt, that Florentine symbol of wit, not being so
readily procurable on a holiday as on working-days.

(7) A public sink at Florence.

(8) In the contado of Arezzo: the equivoque is tolerably obvious.

(9) Slang for an ill-kept jakes.

(10) Also slang: signifying a pyramidal pile of ordure.

(11) Broom-handle.

(12) The meaning of this term may perhaps be divined from the sound.


A Sicilian woman cunningly conveys from a merchant that which he has
brought to Palermo; he, making a shew of being come back thither with far
greater store of goods than before, borrows money of her, and leaves her
in lieu thereof water and tow.

How much in divers passages the queen's story moved the ladies to
laughter, it boots not to ask: none was there in whose eyes the tears
stood not full a dozen times for excess of merriment. However, it being
ended, and Dioneo witting that 'twas now his turn, thus spake
he:--Gracious ladies, 'tis patent to all that wiles are diverting in the
degree of the wiliness of him that is by them beguiled. Wherefore, albeit
stories most goodly have been told by you all, I purpose to relate one
which should afford you more pleasure than any that has been told, seeing
that she that was beguiled was far more cunning in beguiling others than
any of the beguiled of whom you have spoken.

There was, and perhaps still is, a custom in all maritime countries that
have ports, that all merchants arriving there with merchandise, should,
on discharging, bring all their goods into a warehouse, called in many
places "dogana," and maintained by the state, or the lord of the land;
where those that are assigned to that office allot to each merchant, on
receipt of an invoice of all his goods and the value thereof, a room in
which he stores his goods under lock and key; whereupon the said officers
of the dogana enter all the merchant's goods to his credit in the book of
the dogana, and afterwards make him pay duty thereon, or on such part as
he withdraws from the warehouse. By which book of the dogana the brokers
not seldom find out the sorts and quantities of the merchandise that is
there, and also who are the owners thereof, with whom, as occasion
serves, they afterwards treat of exchanges, barters, sales and other
modes of disposing of the goods. Which custom obtained, as in many other
places, so also at Palermo in Sicily, where in like manner there were and
are not a few women, fair as fair can be, but foes to virtue, who by
whoso knows them not would be reputed great and most virtuous ladies. And
being given not merely to fleece but utterly to flay men, they no sooner
espy a foreign merchant in the city, than they find out from the book of
the dogana how much he has there and what he is good for; and then by
caressing and amorous looks and gestures, and words of honeyed sweetness,
they strive to entice and allure the merchant to their love, and not
seldom have they succeeded, and wrested from him great part or the whole
of his merchandise; and of some they have gotten goods and ship and flesh
and bones, so delightsomely have they known how to ply the shears.

Now 'tis not long since one of our young Florentines, Niccolo da Cignano
by name, albeit he was called Salabaetto, arrived there, being sent by
his masters with all the woollen stuffs that he had not been able to
dispose of at Salerno fair, which might perhaps be worth five hundred
florins of gold; and having given the invoice to the officers of the
dogana and stored the goods, Salabaetto was in no hurry to get them out
of bond, but took a stroll or two about the city for his diversion. And
as he was fresh-complexioned and fair and not a little debonair, it so
befell that one of these ladies that plied the shears, and called herself
Jancofiore, began to ogle him. Whereof he taking note, and deeming that
she was a great lady, supposed that she was taken by his good looks, and
cast about how he might manage this amour with all due discretion;
wherefore, saying nought to a soul, he began to pass to and fro before
her house. Which she observing, occupied herself for a few days in
inflaming his passion, and then affecting to be dying of love for him,
sent privily to him a woman that she had in her service, and who was an
adept in the arts of the procuress. She, after not a little palaver, told
him, while the tears all but stood in her eyes, that for his handsome
person and winsome air her mistress was so enamoured of him, that she
found no peace by day or by night; and therefore, if 'twere agreeable to
him, there was nought she desired so much as to meet him privily at a
bagnio: whereupon she drew a ring from her purse, and gave it him by way
of token from her mistress. Overjoyed as ne'er another to hear such good
news, Salabaetto took the ring, and, after drawing it across his eyes and
kissing it, put it on his finger, and told the good woman that, if
Madonna Jancofiore loved him, she was well requited, for that he loved
her more dearly than himself, and that he was ready to meet her wherever
and whenever she might see fit. With which answer the procuress hied her
back to her mistress, and shortly afterwards Salabaetto was informed that
he was to meet the lady at a certain bagnio at vespers of the ensuing

So, saying nought to a soul of the matter, he hied him punctually at the
appointed hour to the bagnio, and found that it had been taken by the
lady; nor had he long to wait before two female slaves made their
appearance, bearing on their heads, the one a great and goodly mattress
of wadding, and the other a huge and well-filled basket; and having laid
the mattress on a bedstead in one of the rooms of the bagnio, they
covered it with a pair of sheets of the finest fabric, bordered with
silk, and a quilt of the whitest Cyprus buckram, with two
daintily-embroidered pillows. The slaves then undressed and got into the
bath, which they thoroughly washed and scrubbed: whither soon afterwards
the lady, attended by other two female slaves, came, and made haste to
greet Salabaetto with the heartiest of cheer; and when, after heaving
many a mighty sigh, she had embraced and kissed him:--"I know not," quoth
she, "who but thou could have brought me to this, such a fire hast thou
kindled in my soul, little dog of a Tuscan!" Whereupon she was pleased
that they should undress, and get into the bath, and two of the slaves
with them; which, accordingly, they did; and she herself, suffering none
other to lay a hand upon him, did with wondrous care wash Salabaetto from
head to foot with soap perfumed with musk and cloves; after which she let
the slaves wash and shampoo herself. The slaves then brought two spotless
sheets of finest texture, which emitted such a scent of roses, that 'twas
as if there was nought there but roses, in one of which having wrapped
Salabaetto, and in the other the lady, they bore them both to bed, where,
the sheets in which they were enfolded being withdrawn by the slaves as
soon as they had done sweating, they remained stark naked in the others.
The slaves then took from the basket cruets of silver most goodly, and
full, this of rose-water, that of water of orange-blossom, a third of
water of jasmine-blossom, and a fourth of nanfa(1) water, wherewith they
sprinkled them: after which, boxes of comfits and the finest wines being
brought forth, they regaled them a while. To Salabaetto 'twas as if he
were in Paradise; a thousand times he scanned the lady, who was indeed
most beautiful; and he counted each hour as a hundred years until the
slaves should get them gone, and he find himself in the lady's arms.

At length, by the lady's command, the slaves departed, leaving a lighted
torch in the room, and then the lady and Salabaetto embraced, and to
Salabaetto's prodigious delight, for it seemed to him that she was all
but dissolved for love of him, tarried there a good while. However, the
time came when the lady must needs rise: so she called the slaves, with
whose help they dressed, regaled them again for a while with wine and
comfits, and washed their faces and hands with the odoriferous waters.
Then as they were going, quoth the lady to Salabaetto:--"If it be
agreeable to thee, I should deem it a very great favour if thou wouldst
come to-night to sup and sleep with me." Salabaetto, who, captivated by
her beauty and her studied graciousness, never doubted but he was dear to
her as her very heart, made answer:--"Madam, there is nought you can
desire but is in the last degree agreeable to me; wherefore to-night and
ever 'tis my purpose to do whatsoever you may be pleased to command." So
home the lady hied her, and having caused a brave shew to be made in her
chamber with her dresses and other paraphernalia, and a grand supper to
be prepared, awaited Salabaetto; who, being come there as soon as 'twas
dark, had of her a gladsome welcome, and was regaled with an excellent
and well-served supper. After which, they repaired to the chamber, where
he was saluted by a wondrous sweet odour of aloe-wood, and observed that
the bed was profusely furnished with birds,(2) after the fashion of
Cyprus, and that not a few fine dresses were hanging upon the pegs. Which
circumstances did, one and all, beget in him the belief that this must be
a great and wealthy lady; and, though he had heard a hint or two to the
contrary touching her life, he would by no means credit them; nor,
supposing that she had perchance taken another with guile, would he
believe that the same thing might befall him. So to his exceeding great
solace, he lay with her that night, and ever grew more afire for her. On
the morrow, as she was investing him with a fair and dainty girdle of
silver, with a goodly purse attached:--"Sweet my Salabaetto," quoth she,
"prithee forget me not; even as my person, so is all that I have at thy
pleasure, and all that I can at thy command."

Salabaetto then embraced and kissed her, and so bade her adieu, and
betook him to the place where the merchants were wont to congregate. And
so it befell that he, continuing to consort with her from time to time,
and being never a denier the poorer thereby, disposed of his merchandise
for ready money and at no small profit; whereof not by him but by another
the lady was forthwith advised. And Salabaetto being come to see her one
evening, she greeted him gaily and gamesomely, and fell a kissing and
hugging him, and made as if she were so afire for love of him that she
was like to die thereof in his arms; and offered to give him two most
goodly silver cups that she had, which Salabaetto would not accept,
having already had from her (taking one time with another) fully thirty
florins of gold, while he had not been able to induce her to touch so
much as a groat of his money. But when by this shew of passion and
generosity she had thoroughly kindled his flame, in came, as she had
arranged, one of her slaves, and spoke to her; whereupon out of the room
she went, and after a while came back in tears, and threw herself prone
on the bed, and set up the most dolorous lamentation that ever woman
made. Whereat Salabaetto wondering, took her in his arms, and mingled his
tears with hers, and said:--"Alas! heart of my body! what ails thee thus
of a sudden? Wherefore art thou so distressed? Ah! tell me the reason, my
soul." The lady allowed him to run on in this strain for a good while,
and then:--"Alas! sweet my lord," quoth she, "I know not either what to
do or what to say. I have but now received a letter from Messina, in
which my brother bids me sell, if need be, all that I have here, and send
him without fail within eight days a thousand florins of gold: otherwise
he will forfeit his head. I know not how to come by them so soon: had I
but fifteen days, I would make a shift to raise them in a quarter where I
might raise a much larger sum, or I would sell one of our estates; but,
as this may not be, would I had been dead or e'er this bad news had
reached me!" Which said, affecting to be utterly broken-hearted, she
ceased not to weep.

Salabaetto, the ardour of whose passion had in great measure deprived him
of the sagacity which the circumstances demanded, supposed that the tears
were genuine enough, and the words even more so. Wherefore:--"Madam,"
quoth he, "I could not furnish you with a thousand, but if five hundred
florins of gold would suffice, they are at your service, if you think you
could repay them within fifteen days; and you may deem yourself in luck's
way, for 'twas only yesterday that I sold my woollens, which had I not
done, I could not have lent you a groat." "Alas" returned the lady, "then
thou hast been in straits for money? Oh! why didst thou not apply to me?
Though I have not a thousand at my command, I could have given thee quite
a hundred, nay indeed two hundred florins. By what thou hast said thou
hast made me hesitate to accept the service that thou proposest to render
me." Which words fairly delivered Salabaetto into the lady's hands,
insomuch that:--"Madam," quoth he, "I would not have you decline my help
for such a scruple; for had my need been as great as yours, I should
certainly have applied to you." Quoth then the lady:--"Ah! Salabaetto
mine, well I wot that the love thou bearest me is a true and perfect
love, seeing that, without waiting to be asked, thou dost so handsomely
come to my aid with so large a sum of money. And albeit I was thine
without this token of thy love, yet, assuredly, it has made me thine in
an even greater degree; nor shall I ever forget that 'tis to thee I owe
my brother's life. But God knows I take thy money from thee reluctantly,
seeing that thou art a merchant, and 'tis by means of money that
merchants conduct all their affairs; but, as necessity constrains me, and
I have good hope of speedily repaying thee, I will even take it, and by
way of security, if I should find no readier method, I will pawn all that
I have here." Which said, she burst into tears, and fell upon Salabaetto,
pressing her cheek upon his.

Salabaetto tried to comfort her; and having spent the night with her, on
the morrow, being minded to shew himself her most devoted servant,
brought her, without awaiting any reminder, five hundred fine florins of
gold: which she, laughing at heart while the tears streamed from her
eyes, took, Salabaetto trusting her mere promise of repayment. Now that
the lady had gotten the money, the complexion of affairs began to alter;
and whereas Salabaetto had been wont to have free access to her, whenever
he was so minded, now for one reason or another he was denied admittance
six times out of seven; nor did she greet him with the same smile, or
shower on him the same caresses, or do him the same cheer as of yore. So
a month, two months, passed beyond the time when he was to have been
repaid his money; and when he demanded it, he was put off with words.
Whereby Salabaetto, being now ware of the cheat which his slender wit had
suffered the evil-disposed woman to put upon him, and also that, having
neither writing nor witness against her, he was entirely at her mercy in
regard of his claim, and being, moreover, ashamed to lodge any complaint
with any one, as well because he had been forewarned of her character, as
because he dreaded the ridicule to which his folly justly exposed him,
was chagrined beyond measure, and inly bewailed his simplicity. And his
masters having written to him, bidding him change the money and remit it
to them, he, being apprehensive that, making default as he must, he
should, if he remained there, be detected, resolved to depart; and having
taken ship, he repaired, not, as he should have done, to Pisa, but to
Naples; where at that time resided our gossip, Pietro dello Canigiano,
treasurer of the Empress of Constantinople, a man of great sagacity and
acuteness, and a very great friend of Salabaetto and his kinsfolk; to
whom trusting in his great discretion, Salabaetto after a while
discovered his distress, telling him what he had done, and the sorry
plight in which by consequence he stood, and craving his aid and counsel,
that he might the more readily find means of livelihood there, for that
he was minded never to go back to Florence. Impatient to hear of such
folly:--"'Twas ill done of thee," quoth Canigiano, "thou hast misbehaved
thyself, wronged thy masters, and squandered an exorbitant sum in
lewdness; however, 'tis done, and we must consider of the remedy." And
indeed, like the shrewd man that he was, he had already bethought him
what was best to be done; and forthwith he imparted it to Salabaetto.
Which expedient Salabaetto approving, resolved to make the adventure; and
having still a little money, and being furnished with a loan by
Canigiano, he provided himself with not a few bales well and closely
corded, and bought some twenty oil-casks, which he filled, and having put
all on shipboard, returned to Palermo. There he gave the invoice of the
bales, as also of the oil-casks, to the officers of the dogana, and
having them all entered to his credit, laid them up in the store-rooms,
saying that he purposed to leave them there until the arrival of other
merchandise that he expected.

Which Jancofiore learning, and being informed that the merchandise, that
he had brought with him, was worth fully two thousand florins of gold, or
even more, besides that which he expected, which was valued at more than
three thousand florins of gold, bethought her that she had not aimed high
enough, and that 'twere well to refund him the five hundred, if so she
might make the greater part of the five thousand florins her own.
Wherefore she sent for him, and Salabaetto, having learned his lesson of
cunning, waited on her. Feigning to know nought of the cargo he had
brought with him, she received him with marvellous cheer, and
began:--"Lo, now, if thou wast angry with me because I did not repay thee
thy money in due time:" but Salabaetto interrupted her, saying with a
laugh:--"Madam 'tis true I was a little vexed, seeing that I would have
plucked out my heart to pleasure you; but listen, and you shall learn the
quality of my displeasure. Such and so great is the love I bear you, that
I have sold the best part of all that I possess, whereby I have already
in this port merchandise to the value of more than two thousand florins,
and expect from the Levant other goods to the value of above three
thousand florins, and mean to set up a warehouse in this city, and live
here, to be ever near you, for that I deem myself more blessed in your
love than any other lover that lives." Whereupon:--"Harkye, Salabaetto,"
quoth the lady, "whatever advantages thee is mighty grateful to me,
seeing that I love thee more than my very life, and right glad am I that
thou art come back with intent to stay, for I hope to have many a good
time with thee; but something I must say to thee by way of excuse, for
that, whilst thou wast thinking of taking thy departure, there were times
when thou wast disappointed of seeing me, and others when thou hadst not
as gladsome a welcome as thou wast wont to have, and therewithal I kept
not the time promised for the repayment of thy money. Thou must know that
I was then in exceeding great trouble and tribulation, and whoso is thus
bested, love he another never so much, cannot greet him with as gladsome
a mien, or be as attentive to him, as he had lief; and thou must further
know that 'tis by no means an easy matter for a lady to come by a
thousand florins of gold: why, 'tis every day a fresh lie, and never a
promise kept; and so we in our turn must needs lie to others; and 'twas
for this cause, and not for any fault of mine, that I did not repay thee
thy money; however, I had it but a little while after thy departure, and
had I known whither to send it, be sure I would have remitted it to thee;
but, as that I wist not, I have kept it safe for thee." She then produced
a purse, in which were the very same coins that he had brought her, and
placed it in his hand, saying:--"Count and see if there are five hundred
there." 'Twas the happiest moment Salabaetto had yet known, as, having
told them out, and found the sum exact, he made answer:--"Madam, I know
that you say sooth, and what you have done abundantly proves it;
wherefore, and for the love I bear you, I warrant you there is no sum you
might ask of me on any occasion of need, with which, if 'twere in my
power, I would not accommodate you; whereof, when I am settled here, you
will be able to assure yourself."

Having thus in words reinstated himself as her lover, he proceeded to
treat her as his mistress, whereto she responded, doing all that was in
her power to pleasure and honour him, and feigning to be in the last
degree enamoured of him. But Salabaetto, being minded to requite her
guile with his own, went to her one evening, being bidden to sup and
sleep with her, with an aspect so melancholy and dolorous, that he shewed
as he had lief give up the ghost. Jancofiore, as she embraced and kissed
him, demanded of him the occasion of his melancholy. Whereto he, having
let her be instant with him a good while, made answer:--"I am undone, for
that the ship, having aboard her the goods that I expected, has been
taken by the corsairs of Monaco, and held to ransom in ten thousand
florins of gold, of which it falls to me to pay one thousand, and I have
not a denier, for the five hundred thou repaidst me I sent forthwith to
Naples to buy stuffs for this market, and were I to sell the merchandise
I have here, as 'tis not now the right time to sell, I should scarce get
half the value; nor am I as yet so well known here as to come by any to
help me at this juncture, and so what to do or what to say I know not;
but this I know that, if I send not the money without delay, my
merchandise will be taken to Monaco, and I shall never touch aught of it
again." Whereat the lady was mightily annoyed, being apprehensive of
losing all, and bethought her how she might prevent the goods going to
Monaco: wherefore:--"God knows," quoth she, "that for the love I bear
thee I am not a little sorry for thee: but what boots it idly to distress
oneself? Had I the money, God knows I would lend it thee forthwith, but I
have it not. One, indeed, there is that accommodated me a day or two ago
with five hundred florins that I stood in need of, but he requires a
heavy usance, not less than thirty on the hundred, and if thou shouldst
have recourse to him, good security must be forthcoming. Now for my part
I am ready, so I may serve thee, to pledge all these dresses, and my
person to boot, for as much as he will tend thee thereon; but how wilt
thou secure the balance?"

Salabaetto divined the motive that prompted her thus to accommodate him,
and that she was to lend the money herself; which suiting his purpose
well, he first of all thanked her, and then said that, being constrained
by necessity, he would not stand out against exorbitant terms, adding
that, as to the balance, he would secure it upon the merchandise that he
had at the dogana by causing it to be entered in the name of the lender;
but that he must keep the key of the storerooms, as well that he might be
able to shew the goods, if requested, as to make sure that none of them
should be tampered with or changed or exchanged. The lady said that this
was reasonable, and that 'twas excellent security. So, betimes on the
morrow, the lady sent for a broker, in whom she reposed much trust, and
having talked the matter over with him, gave him a thousand florins of
gold, which the broker took to Salabaetto, and thereupon had all that
Salabaetto had at the dogana entered in his name; they then had the
script and counterscript made out, and, the arrangement thus concluded,
went about their respective affairs. Salabaetto lost no time in getting
aboard a bark with his five hundred florins of gold, and being come to
Naples, sent thence a remittance which fully discharged his obligation to
his masters that had entrusted him with the stuffs: he also paid all that
he owed to Pietro dello Canigiano and all his other creditors, and made
not a little merry with Canigiano over the trick he had played the
Sicilian lady. He then departed from Naples, and being minded to have
done with mercantile affairs, betook him to Ferrara.

Jancofiore, surprised at first by Salabaetto's disappearance from
Palermo, waxed after a while suspicious; and, when she had waited fully
two months, seeing that he did not return, she caused the broker to break
open the store-rooms. And trying first of all the casks, she found them
full of sea-water, save that in each there was perhaps a hog's-head of
oil floating on the surface. Then undoing the bales, she found them all,
save two that contained stuffs, full of tow, and in short their whole
contents put together were not worth more than two hundred florins.
Wherefore Jancofiore, knowing herself to have been outdone, regretted
long and bitterly the five hundred florins of gold that she had refunded,
and still more the thousand that she had lent, repeating many a time to
herself:--Who with a Tuscan has to do, Had need of eyesight quick and
true. Thus, left with the loss and the laugh against her, she discovered
that there were others as knowing as she.

(1) Neither the Vocab. degli Accad. della Crusca nor the Ricchezze
attempts to define the precise nature of this scent, which Fanfani
identifies with that of the orange-blossom.

(2) I.e. with a sort of musical boxes in the shape of birds.

No sooner was Dioneo's story ended, than Lauretta, witting that therewith
the end of her sovereignty was come, bestowed her meed of praise on
Pietro Canigiano for his good counsel, and also on Salabaetto for the
equal sagacity which he displayed in carrying it out, and then, taking
off the laurel wreath, set it on the head of Emilia, saying
graciously:--"I know not, Madam, how debonair a queen you may prove, but
at least we shall have in you a fair one. Be it your care, then, that you
exercise your authority in a manner answerable to your charms." Which
said, she resumed her seat.

Not so much to receive the crown, as to be thus commended to her face and
before the company for that which ladies are wont to covet the most,
Emilia was a little shamefast; a tint like that of the newly-blown rose
overspread her face, and a while she stood silent with downcast eyes:
then, as the blush faded away, she raised them; and having given her
seneschal her commands touching all matters pertaining to the company,
thus she spake:--"Sweet my ladies, 'tis matter of common experience that,
when the oxen have swunken a part of the day under the coercive yoke,
they are relieved thereof and loosed, and suffered to go seek their
pasture at their own sweet will in the woods; nor can we fail to observe
that gardens luxuriant with diversity of leafage are not less, but far
more fair to see, than woods wherein is nought but oaks. Wherefore I deem
that, as for so many days our discourse has been confined within the
bounds of certain laws, 'twill be not only meet but profitable for us,
being in need of relaxation, to roam a while, and so recruit our strength
to undergo the yoke once more. And therefore I am minded that to-morrow
the sweet tenor of your discourse be not confined to any particular
theme, but that you be at liberty to discourse on such wise as to each
may seem best; for well assured am I that thus to speak of divers matters
will be no less pleasurable than to limit ourselves to one topic; and by
reason of this enlargement my successor in the sovereignty will find you
more vigorous, and be therefore all the more forward to reimpose upon you
the wonted restraint of our laws." Having so said, she dismissed all the
company until supper-time.

All approved the wisdom of what the queen had said; and being risen
betook them to their several diversions, the ladies to weave garlands and
otherwise disport them, the young men to play and sing; and so they
whiled away the hours until supper-time; which being come, they gathered
about the fair fountain, and took their meal with gay and festal cheer.
Supper ended, they addressed them to their wonted pastime of song and
dance. At the close of which the queen, notwithstanding the songs which
divers of the company had already gladly accorded them, called for
another from Pamfilo, who without the least demur thus sang:--

So great, O Love, the bliss
Through thee I prove, so jocund my estate,
That in thy flame to burn I bless my fate!

Such plenitude of joy my heart doth know
Of that high joy and rare,
Wherewith thou hast me blest,
As, bounds disdaining, still doth overflow,
And by my radiant air
My blitheness manifest;
For by thee thus possessed
With love, where meeter 'twere to venerate,
I still consume within thy flame elate.

Well wot I, Love, no song may e'er reveal,
Nor any sign declare
What in my heart is pent
Nay, might they so, that were I best conceal,
Whereof were others ware,
'Twould serve but to torment
Me, whose is such content,
That weak were words and all inadequate
A tittle of my bliss to adumbrate.

Who would have dreamed that e'er in mine embrace
Her I should clip and fold
Whom there I still do feel,
Or as 'gainst her face e'er to lay my face
Attain such grace untold,
And unimagined weal?
Wherefore my bliss I seal
Of mine own heart within the circuit strait,
And still in thy sweet flame luxuriate.

So ended Pamfilo his song: whereto all the company responded in full
chorus; nor was there any but gave to its words an inordinate degree of
attention, endeavouring by conjecture to penetrate that which he
intimated that 'twas meet he should keep secret. Divers were the
interpretations hazarded, but all were wide of the mark. At length,
however, the queen, seeing that ladies and men alike were fain of rest,
bade all betake them to bed.

Endeth here the eighth day of the Decameron, beginneth the ninth, in
which, under the rule of Emilia, discourse is had, at the discretion of
each, of such matters as most commend themselves to each in turn.

The luminary, before whose splendour the night takes wing, had already
changed the eighth heaven(1) from azure to the lighter blue,(2) and in
the meads the flowerets were beginning to lift their heads, when Emilia,
being risen, roused her fair gossips, and, likewise, the young men. And
so the queen leading the way at an easy pace, and the rest of the company
following, they hied them to a copse at no great distance from the
palace. Where, being entered, they saw the goats and stags and other wild
creatures, as if witting that in this time of pestilence they had nought
to fear from the hunter, stand awaiting them with no more sign of fear
than if they had been tamed: and so, making now towards this, now towards
the other of them as if to touch them, they diverted themselves for a
while by making them skip and run. But, as soon as the sun was in the
ascendant, by common consent they turned back, and whoso met them,
garlanded as they were with oak-leaves, and carrying store of fragrant
herbs or flowers in their hands might well have said:--"Either shall
death not vanquish these, or they will meet it with a light heart." So,
slowly wended they their way, now singing, now bandying quips and merry
jests, to the palace, where they found all things in order meet, and
their servants in blithe and merry cheer. A while they rested, nor went
they to table until six ditties, each gayer than that which went before,
had been sung by the young men and the ladies; which done, they washed
their hands, and all by the queen's command were ranged by the seneschal
at the table; and, the viands being served, they cheerily took their
meal: wherefrom being risen, they trod some measures to the accompaniment
of music; and then, by the queen's command, whoso would betook him to
rest. However, the accustomed hour being come, they all gathered at the
wonted spot for their discoursing, and the queen, bending her regard upon
Filomena, bade her make a beginning of the day's story-telling, which she
with a smile did on this wise:--

(1) I.e. in the Ptolemaic system, the region of the fixed stars.

(2) Cilestro: a word for which we have no exact equivalent, the dominant
note of the Italian sky, when the sun is well up, being its intense


Madonna Francesca, having two lovers, the one Rinuccio, the other
Alessandro, by name, and loving neither of them, induces the one to
simulate a corpse in a tomb, and the other to enter the tomb to fetch him
out: whereby, neither satisfying her demands, she artfully rids herself
of both.

Madam, since so it pleases you, well pleased am I that in this vast, this
boundless field of discourse, which you, our Lady Bountiful, have
furnished us withal, 'tis mine to run the first course; wherein if I do
well, I doubt not that those, who shall follow me, will do not only well
but better. Such, sweet my ladies, has been the tenor of our discourse,
that times not a few the might of Love, how great and singular it is, has
been set forth, but yet I doubt the topic is not exhausted, nor would it
be so, though we should continue to speak of nought else for the space of
a full year. And as Love not only leads lovers to debate with themselves
whether they were not best to die, but also draws them into the houses of
the dead in quest of the dead, I am minded in this regard to tell you a
story, wherein you will not only discern the power of Love, but will also
learn how the ready wit of a worthy lady enabled her to disembarrass
herself of two lovers, whose love was displeasing to her.

Know, then, that there dwelt aforetime in the city of Pistoia a most
beauteous widow lady, of whom it so befell that two of our citizens, the
one Rinuccio Palermini, the other Alessandro Chiarmontesi, by name,
tarrying at Pistoia, for that they were banished from Florence, became,
neither witting how it stood with the other, in the last degree
enamoured. Wherefore each used all his arts to win the love of Madonna
Francesca de' Lazzari--such was the lady's name--and she, being thus
continually plied with ambassages and entreaties on the part of both, and
having indiscreetly lent ear to them from time to time, found it no easy
matter discreetly to extricate herself, when she was minded to be rid of
their pestering, until it occurred to her to adopt the following
expedient, to wit, to require of each a service, such as, though not
impracticable, she deemed none would actually perform, to the end that,
they making default, she might have a decent and colourable pretext for
refusing any longer to receive their ambassages. Which expedient was on
this wise. One day there died in Pistoia, and was buried in a tomb
outside the church of the Friars Minors, a man, who, though his forbears
had been gentlefolk, was reputed the very worst man, not in Pistoia only,
but in all the world, and therewithal he was of form and feature so
preternaturally hideous that whoso knew him not could scarce see him for
the first time without a shudder. Now, the lady pondering her design on
the day of this man's death, it occurred to her that he might in a
measure subserve its accomplishment: wherefore she said to her
maid:--"Thou knowest to what worry and annoyance I am daily put by the
ambassages of these two Florentines, Rinuccio, and Alessandro. Now I am
not disposed to gratify either of them with my love, and therefore, to
shake them off, I am minded, as they make such great protestations, to
put them to the proof by requiring of each something which I am sure he
will not perform, and thus to rid myself of their pestering: so list what
I mean to do. Thou knowest that this morning there was interred in the
ground of the Friars Minors this Scannadio (such was the name of the bad
man of whom we spoke but now) whose aspect, while he yet lived, appalled
even the bravest among us. Thou wilt therefore go privily, to Alessandro,
and say to him:--'Madonna Francesca sends thee word by me that the time
is now come when thou mayst win that which thou hast so much desired, to
wit, her love and joyance thereof, if thou be so minded, on the following
terms. For a reason, which thou shalt learn hereafter, one of her kinsmen
is to bring home to her to-night the corpse of Scannadio, who was buried
this morning; and she, standing in mortal dread of this dead man, would
fain not see him; wherefore she prays thee to do her a great service, and
be so good as to get thee this evening at the hour of first sleep to the
tomb wherein Scannadio is buried, and go in, and having wrapped thyself
in his grave-clothes, lie there, as thou wert Scannadio, himself, until
one come for thee, when thou must say never a word, but let him carry
thee forth, and bear thee to Madonna Francesca's house, where she will
give thee welcome, and let thee stay with her, until thou art minded to
depart, and, for the rest, thou wilt leave it to her.' And if he says
that he will gladly do so, well and good; if not, then thou wilt tell him
from me, never more to shew himself where I am, and, as he values his
life, to have a care to send me no more ambassages. Which done, thou wilt
go to Rinuccio Palermini, and wilt say to him:--'Madonna Francesca lets
thee know that she is ready in all respects to comply with thy wishes, so
thou wilt do her a great service, which is on this wise: to-night, about
midnight, thou must go to the tomb wherein was this morning interred
Scannadio, and saying never a word, whatever thou mayst hear or otherwise
be ware of, bear him gently forth to Madonna Francesca's house, where
thou shalt learn wherefore she requires this of thee, and shalt have thy
solace of her; and if thou art not minded to obey her in this, see that
thou never more send her ambassage.'"

The maid did her mistress's errand, omitting nothing, to both the men,
and received from each the same answer, to wit, that to pleasure the
lady, he would adventure a journey to hell, to say nothing of entering a
tomb. With which answer the maid returned to the lady, who waited to see
if they would be such fools as to make it good. Night came, and at the
hour of first sleep Alessandro Chiarmontesi, stripped to his doublet,
quitted his house, and bent his steps towards Scannadio's tomb, with
intent there to take the dead man's place. As he walked, there came upon
him a great fear, and he fell a saying to himself:--Ah! what a fool am I!
Whither go I? How know I that her kinsmen, having detected my love, and
surmising that which is not, have not put her upon requiring this of me,
in order that they may slay me in the tomb? In which event I alone should
be the loser, for nought would ever be heard of it, so that they would
escape scot-free. Or how know I but that 'tis some machination of one of
my ill-wishers, whom perchance she loves, and is therefore minded to
abet? And again quoth he to himself:--But allowing that 'tis neither the
one nor the other, and that her kinsmen are really to carry me to her
house, I scarce believe that 'tis either that they would fain embrace
Scannadio's corpse themselves, or let her do so: rather it must be that
they have a mind to perpetrate some outrage upon it, for that, perchance,
he once did them an evil turn. She bids me say never a word, no matter
what I may hear or be otherwise ware of. Suppose they were to pluck out
my eyes, or my teeth, or cut off my hands, or treat me to some other
horse-play of the like sort, how then? how could I keep quiet? And if I
open my mouth, they will either recognize me, and perchance do me a
mischief, or, if they spare me, I shall have been at pains for nought,
for they will not leave me with the lady, and she will say that I
disobeyed her command, and I shall never have aught of her favours.

As thus he communed with himself, he was on the point of turning back;
but his overmastering love plied him with opposing arguments of such
force that he kept on his way, and reached the tomb; which having opened,
he entered, and after stripping Scannadio, and wrapping himself in the
grave-clothes, closed it, and laid himself down in Scannadio's place. He
then fell a thinking of the dead man, and his manner of life, and the
things which he had heard tell of as happening by night, and in other
less appalling places than the houses of the dead; whereby all the hairs
of his head stood on end, and he momently expected Scannadio to rise and
cut his throat. However, the ardour of his love so fortified him that he
overcame these and all other timorous apprehensions, and lay as if he
were dead, awaiting what should betide him.

Towards midnight Rinuccio, bent likewise upon fulfilling his lady's
behest, sallied forth of his house, revolving as he went divers
forebodings of possible contingencies, as that, having Scannadio's corpse
upon his shoulders, he might fall into the hands of the Signory, and be
condemned to the fire as a wizard, or that, should the affair get wind,
it might embroil him with his kinsfolk, or the like, which gave him
pause. But then with a revulsion of feeling:-- Shall I, quoth he to
himself, deny this lady, whom I so much have loved and love, the very
first thing that she asks of me? And that too when I am thereby to win
her favour? No, though 'twere as much as my life is worth, far be it from
me to fail of keeping my word. So on he fared, and arrived at the tomb,
which he had no difficulty in opening, and being entered, laid hold of
Alessandro, who, though in mortal fear, had given no sign of life, by the
feet, and dragged him forth, and having hoisted him on to his shoulders,
bent his steps towards the lady's house. And as he went, being none too
careful of Alessandro, he swung him from time to time against one or
other of the angles of certain benches that were by the wayside; and
indeed the night was so dark and murky that he could not see where he was
going. And when he was all but on the threshold of the lady's house (she
standing within at a window with her maid, to mark if Rinuccio would
bring Alessandro, and being already provided with an excuse for sending
them both away), it so befell that the patrol of the Signory, who were
posted in the street in dead silence, being on the look-out for a certain
bandit, hearing the tramp of Rinuccio's feet, suddenly shewed a light,
the better to know what was toward, and whither to go, and advancing
targes and lances, cried out:--"Who goes there?" Whereupon Rinuccio,
having little leisure for deliberation, let Alessandro fall, and took to
flight as fast as his legs might carry him. Alessandro, albeit encumbered
by the graveclothes, which were very long, also jumped up and made off.
By the light shewn by the patrol the lady had very plainly perceived
Rinuccio, with Alessandro on his back, as also that Alessandro had the
grave-clothes upon him; and much did she marvel at the daring of both,
but, for all that, she laughed heartily to see Rinuccio drop Alessandro,
and Alessandro run away. Overjoyed at the turn the affair had taken, and
praising God that He had rid her of their harass, she withdrew from the
window, and betook her to her chamber, averring to her maid that for
certain they must both be mightily in love with her, seeing that 'twas
plain they had both done her bidding.

Crestfallen and cursing his evil fortune, Rinuccio nevertheless went not
home, but, as soon as the street was clear of the patrol, came back to
the spot where he had dropped Alessandro, and stooped down and began
feeling about, if haply he might find him, and so do his devoir to the
lady; but, as he found him not, he supposed the patrol must have borne
him thence, and so at last home he went; as did also Alessandro, knowing
not what else to do, and deploring his mishap. On the morrow, Scannadio's
tomb being found open and empty, for Alessandro had thrown the corpse
into the vault below, all Pistoia debated of the matter with no small
diversity of opinion, the fools believing that Scannadio had been carried
off by devils. Neither of the lovers, however, forbore to make suit to
the lady for her favour and love, telling her what he had done, and what
had happened, and praying her to have him excused that he had not
perfectly carried out her instructions. But she, feigning to believe
neither of them, disposed of each with the same curt answer, to wit,
that, as he had not done her bidding, she would never do aught for him.


An abbess rises in haste and in the dark, with intent to surprise an
accused nun abed with her lover: thinking to put on her veil, she puts on
instead the breeches of a priest that she has with her: the nun, espying
her headgear, and doing her to wit thereof, is acquitted, and thenceforth
finds it easier to forgather with her lover.

So ended Filomena; and when all had commended the address shewn by the
lady in ridding herself of the two lovers that she affected not, and
contrariwise had censured the hardihood of the two lovers as not love but
madness, the queen turned to Elisa, and with a charming air:--"Now,
Elisa, follow," quoth she: whereupon Elisa began on this wise:--Dearest
ladies, 'twas cleverly done of Madonna Francesca, to disembarrass herself
in the way we have heard: but I have to tell of a young nun, who by a
happy retort, and the favour of Fortune, delivered herself from imminent
peril. And as you know that there are not a few most foolish folk, who,
notwithstanding their folly, take upon themselves the governance and
correction of others; so you may learn from my story that Fortune at
times justly puts them to shame; which befell the abbess, who was the
superior of the nun of whom I am about to speak.

You are to know, then, that in a convent in Lombardy of very great repute
for strict and holy living there was, among other ladies that there wore
the veil, a young woman of noble family, and extraordinary beauty. Now
Isabetta--for such was her name--having speech one day of one of her
kinsmen at the grate, became enamoured of a fine young gallant that was
with him; who, seeing her to be very fair, and reading her passion in her
eyes, was kindled with a like flame for her: which mutual and unsolaced
love they bore a great while not without great suffering to both. But at
length, both being intent thereon, the gallant discovered a way by which
he might with all secrecy visit his nun; and she approving, he paid her
not one visit only, but many, to their no small mutual solace. But, while
thus they continued their intercourse, it so befell that one night one of
the sisters observed him take his leave of Isabetta and depart, albeit
neither he nor she was ware that they had thus been discovered. The
sister imparted what she had seen to several others. At first they were
minded to denounce her to the abbess, one Madonna Usimbalda, who was
reputed by the nuns, and indeed by all that knew her, to be a good and
holy woman; but on second thoughts they deemed it expedient, that there
might be no room for denial, to cause the abbess to take her and the
gallant in the act. So they held their peace, and arranged between them
to keep her in watch and close espial, that they might catch her
unawares. Of which practice Isabetta recking, witting nought, it so
befell that one night, when she had her lover to see her, the sisters
that were on the watch were soon ware of it, and at what they deemed the
nick of time parted into two companies of which one mounted guard at the
threshold of Isabetta's cell, while the other hasted to the abbess's
chamber, and knocking at the door, roused her, and as soon as they heard
her voice, said:--"Up, Madam, without delay: we have discovered that
Isabetta has a young man with her in her cell."

Now that night the abbess had with her a priest whom she used not seldom
to have conveyed to her in a chest; and the report of the sisters making
her apprehensive lest for excess of zeal and hurry they should force the
door open, she rose in a trice; and huddling on her clothes as best she
might in the dark, instead of the veil that they wear, which they call
the psalter, she caught up the priest's breeches, and having clapped them
on her head, hied her forth, and locked the door behind her,
saying:--"Where is this woman accursed of God?" And so, guided by the
sisters, all so agog to catch Isabetta a sinning that they perceived not
what manner of headgear the abbess wore, she made her way to the cell,
and with their aid broke open the door; and entering they found the two
lovers abed in one another's arms; who, as it were, thunderstruck to be
thus surprised, lay there, witting not what to do. The sisters took the
young nun forthwith, and by command of the abbess brought her to the
chapter-house. The gallant, left behind in the cell, put on his clothes
and waited to see how the affair would end, being minded to make as many
nuns as he might come at pay dearly for any despite that might be done
his mistress, and to bring her off with him. The abbess, seated in the
chapter-house with all her nuns about her, and all eyes bent upon the
culprit, began giving her the severest reprimand that ever woman got, for
that by her disgraceful and abominable conduct, should it get wind, she
had sullied the fair fame of the convent; whereto she added menaces most
dire. Shamefast and timorous, the culprit essayed no defence, and her
silence begat pity of her in the rest; but, while the abbess waxed more
and more voluble, it chanced that the girl raised her head and espied the
abbess's headgear, and the points that hung down on this side and that.
The significance whereof being by no means lost upon her, she quite
plucked up heart, and:--"Madam," quoth she, "so help you God, tie up your
coif, and then you may say what you will to me." Whereto the abbess, not
understanding her, replied:--"What coif, lewd woman? So thou hast the
effrontery to jest! Think'st thou that what thou hast done is a matter
meet for jests?" Whereupon:--"Madam," quoth the girl again, "I pray you,
tie up your coif, and then you may say to me whatever you please." Which
occasioned not a few of the nuns to look up at the abbess's head, and the
abbess herself to raise her hands thereto, and so she and they at one and
the same time apprehended Isabetta's meaning. Wherefore the abbess,
finding herself detected by all in the same sin, and that no disguise was
possible, changed her tone, and held quite another sort of language than
before, the upshot of which was that 'twas impossible to withstand the
assaults of the flesh, and that, accordingly, observing due secrecy as
theretofore, all might give themselves a good time, as they had
opportunity. So, having dismissed Isabetta to rejoin her lover in her
cell, she herself returned to lie with her priest. And many a time
thereafter, in spite of the envious, Isabetta had her gallant to see her,
the others, that lacked lovers, doing in secret the best they might to
push their fortunes.


Master Simone, at the instance of Bruno and Buffalmacco and Nello, makes
Calandrino believe that he is with child. Calandrino, accordingly, gives
them capons and money for medicines, and is cured without being

When Elisa had ended her story, and all had given thanks to God that He
had vouchsafed the young nun a happy escape from the fangs of her envious
companions, the queen bade Filostrato follow suit; and without expecting
a second command, thus Filostrato began:--Fairest my ladies, the uncouth
judge from the Marches, of whom I told you yesterday, took from the tip
of my tongue a story of Calandrino, which I was on the point of
narrating: and as nought can be said of him without mightily enhancing
our jollity, albeit not a little has already been said touching him and
his comrades, I will now give you the story which I had meant yesterday
to give you. Who they were, this Calandrino and the others that I am to
tell of in this story, has already been sufficiently explained;
wherefore, without more ado, I say that one of Calandrino's aunts having
died, leaving him two hundred pounds in petty cash, Calandrino gave out
that he was minded to purchase an estate, and, as if he had had ten
thousand florins of gold to invest, engaged every broker in Florence to
treat for him, the negotiation always falling through, as soon as the
price was named. Bruno and Buffalmacco, knowing what was afoot, told him
again and again that he had better give himself a jolly time with them
than go about buying earth as if he must needs make pellets;(1) but so
far were they from effecting their purpose, that they could not even
prevail upon him to give them a single meal. Whereat as one day they
grumbled, being joined by a comrade of theirs, one Nello, also a painter,
they all three took counsel how they might wet their whistle at
Calandrino's expense; and, their plan being soon concerted, the next
morning Calandrino was scarce gone out, when Nello met him,
saying:--"Good day, Calandrino:" whereto Calandrino replied:--"God give
thee a good day and a good year." Nello then drew back a little, and
looked him steadily in the face, until:--"What seest thou to stare at?"
quoth Calandrino. "Hadst thou no pain in the night?" returned Nello;
"thou seemest not thyself to me." Which Calandrino no sooner heard, than
he began to be disquieted, and:--"Alas! How sayst thou?" quoth he. "What
tak'st thou to be the matter with me?" "Why, as to that I have nothing to
say," returned Nello; "but thou seemest to be quite changed: perchance
'tis not what I suppose;" and with that he left him.

Calandrino, anxious, though he could not in the least have said why, went
on; and soon Buffalmacco, who was not far off, and had observed him part
from Nello, made up to him, and greeted him, asking him if he was not in
pain. "I cannot say," replied Calandrino; "'twas but now that Nello told
me that I looked quite changed: can it be that there is aught the matter
with me?" "Aught?" quoth Buffalmacco, "ay, indeed, there might be a
trifle the matter with thee. Thou look'st to be half dead, man."
Calandrino now began to think he must have a fever. And then up came
Bruno; and the first thing he said was:--"Why, Calandrino, how ill thou
look'st! thy appearance is that of a corpse. How dost thou feel?" To be
thus accosted by all three left no doubt in Calandrino's mind that he was
ill, and so:--"What shall I do?" quoth he, in a great fright. "My
advice," replied Bruno, "is that thou go home and get thee to bed and
cover thee well up, and send thy water to Master Simone, who, as thou
knowest, is such a friend of ours. He will tell thee at once what thou
must do; and we will come to see thee, and will do aught that may be
needful." And Nello then joining them, they all three went home with
Calandrino, who, now quite spent, went straight to his room, and said to
his wife:--"Come now, wrap me well up; I feel very ill." And so he laid
himself on the bed, and sent a maid with his water to Master Simone, who
had then his shop in the Mercato Vecchio, at the sign of the pumpkin.
Whereupon quoth Bruno to his comrades:--"You will stay here with him, and
I will go hear what the doctor has to say, and if need be, will bring him
hither." "Prithee, do so, my friend," quoth Calandrino, "and bring me
word how it is with me, for I feel as how I cannot say in my inside." So
Bruno hied him to Master Simone, and before the maid arrived with the
water, told him what was afoot. The Master, thus primed, inspected the
water, and then said to the maid:--"Go tell Calandrino to keep himself
very warm, and I will come at once, and let him know what is the matter
with him, and what he must do." With which message the maid was scarce
returned, when the Master and Bruno arrived, and the Master, having
seated himself beside Calandrino, felt his pulse, and by and by, in the
presence of his wife, said:--"Harkye, Calandrino, I speak to thee as a
friend, and I tell thee that what is amiss with thee is just that thou
art with child." Whereupon Calandrino cried out querulously:--"Woe's me!
'Tis thy doing, Tessa, for that thou must needs be uppermost: I told thee
plainly what would come of it," Whereat the lady, being not a little
modest, coloured from brow to neck, and with downcast eyes, withdrew from
the room, saying never a word by way of answer. Calandrino ran on in the
same plaintive strain:--"Alas! woe's me! What shall I do? How shall I be
delivered of this child? What passage can it find? Ah! I see only too
plainly that the lasciviousness of this wife of mine has been the death
of me: God make her as wretched as I would fain be happy! Were I as well
as I am not, I would get me up and thrash her, till I left not a whole
bone in her body, albeit it does but serve me right for letting her get
the upper place; but if I do win through this, she shall never have it
again; verily she might pine to death for it, but she should not have

Which to hear, Bruno and Buffalmacco and Nello were like to burst with
suppressed laughter, and Master Scimmione(2) laughed so frantically, that
all his teeth were ready to start from his jaws. However, at length, in
answer to Calandrino's appeals and entreaties for counsel and
succour:--"Calandrino," quoth the Master, "thou mayst dismiss thy fears,
for, God be praised, we were apprised of thy state in such good time that
with but little trouble, in the course of a few days, I shall set thee
right; but 'twill cost a little." "Woe's me," returned Calandrino, "be it
so, Master, for the love of God: I have here two hundred pounds, with
which I had thoughts of buying an estate: take them all, all, if you must
have all, so only I may escape being delivered, for I know not how I
should manage it, seeing that women, albeit 'tis much easier for them, do
make such a noise in the hour of their labour, that I misdoubt me, if I
suffered so, I should die before I was delivered." "Disquiet not
thyself," said the doctor: "I will have a potion distilled for thee; of
rare virtue it is, and not a little palatable, and in the course of three
days 'twill purge thee of all, and leave thee in better fettle than a
fish; but thou wilt do well to be careful thereafter, and commit no such
indiscretions again. Now to make this potion we must have three pair of
good fat capons, and, for divers other ingredients, thou wilt give one of
thy friends here five pounds in small change to purchase them, and thou
wilt have everything sent to my shop, and so, please God, I will send
thee this distilled potion to-morrow morning, and thou wilt take a good
beakerful each time." Whereupon:--"Be it as you bid, Master mine," quoth
Calandrino, and handing Bruno five pounds, and money enough to purchase
three pair of capons, he begged him, if it were not too much trouble, to
do him the service to buy these things for him. So away went the doctor,
and made a little decoction by way of draught, and sent it him. Bruno
bought the capons and all else that was needed to furnish forth the
feast, with which he and his comrades and the doctor regaled them.
Calandrino drank of the decoction for three mornings, after which he had
a visit from his friends and the doctor, who felt his pulse, and
then:--"Beyond a doubt, Calandrino," quoth he, "thou art cured, and so
thou hast no more occasion to keep indoors, but needst have no fear to do
whatever thou hast a mind to." Much relieved, Calandrino got up, and
resumed his accustomed way of life, and, wherever he found any one to
talk to, was loud in praise of Master Simone for the excellent manner in
which he had cured him, causing him in three days without the least
suffering to be quit of his pregnancy. And Bruno and Buffalmacco and
Nello were not a little pleased with themselves that they had so cleverly
got the better of Calandrino's niggardliness, albeit Monna Tessa, who was
not deceived, murmured not a little against her husband.

(1) I.e. bolts of clay for the cross-bow.

(2) I.e. great ape: with a play on Simone.


Cecco, son of Messer Fortarrigo, loses his all at play at Buonconvento,
besides the money of Cecco, son of Messer Angiulieri; whom, running after
him in his shirt and crying out that he has robbed him, he causes to be
taken by peasants: he then puts on his clothes, mounts his palfrey, and
leaves him to follow in his shirt.

All the company laughed beyond measure to hear what Calandrino said
touching his wife: but, when Filostrato had done, Neifile, being bidden
by the queen, thus began:--Noble ladies, were it not more difficult for
men to evince their good sense and virtue than their folly and their
vice, many would labour in vain to set bounds to their flow of words:
whereof you have had a most conspicuous example in poor blundering
Calandrino, who, for the better cure of that with which in his simplicity
he supposed himself to be afflicted, had no sort of need to discover in
public his wife's secret pleasures. Which affair has brought to my mind
one that fell out contrariwise, inasmuch as the guile of one discomfited
the good sense of another to the grievous loss and shame of the
discomfited: the manner whereof I am minded to relate to you.

'Tis not many years since there were in Siena two young men, both of age,
and both alike named Cecco, the one being son of Messer Angiulieri, the
other of Messer Fortarrigo. Who, albeit in many other respects their
dispositions accorded ill, agreed so well in one, to wit, that they both
hated their fathers, that they became friends, and kept much together.
Now Angiulieri, being a pretty fellow, and well-mannered, could not brook
to live at Siena on the allowance made him by his father, and learning
that there was come into the March of Ancona, as legate of the Pope, a
cardinal, to whom he was much bounden, resolved to resort to him there,
thinking thereby to improve his circumstances. So, having acquainted his
father with his purpose, he prevailed upon him to give him there and then
all that he would have given him during the next six months, that he
might have the wherewith to furnish himself with apparel and a good
mount, so as to travel in a becoming manner. And as he was looking out
for some one to attend him as his servant, Fortarrigo, hearing of it,
came presently to him and besought him with all earnestness to take him
with him as his groom, or servant, or what he would, and he would be
satisfied with his keep, without any salary whatsoever. Whereto
Angiulieri made answer that he was not disposed to take him, not but that
he well knew that he was competent for any service that might be required
of him, but because he was given to play, and therewithal would at times
get drunk. Fortarrigo assured him with many an oath that he would be on
his guard to commit neither fault, and added thereto such instant
entreaties, that Angiulieri was, as it were, vanquished, and consented.
So one morning they took the road for Buonconvento, being minded there to
breakfast. Now when Angiulieri had breakfasted, as 'twas a very hot day,
he had a bed made in the inn, and having undressed with Fortarrigo's
help, he composed himself to sleep, telling Fortarrigo to call him on the
stroke of none. Angiulieri thus sleeping, Fortarrigo repaired to the
tavern, where, having slaked his thirst, he sate down to a game with some
that were there, who speedily won from him all his money, and thereafter
in like manner all the clothes he had on his back: wherefore he, being
anxious to retrieve his losses, went, stripped as he was to his shirt, to
the room where lay Angiulieri; and seeing that he was sound asleep, he
took from his purse all the money that he had, and so went back to the
gaming-table, and staked it, and lost it all, as he had his own.

By and by Angiulieri awoke, and got up, and dressed, and called for
Fortarrigo; and as Fortarrigo answered not, he supposed that he must have
had too much to drink, and be sleeping it off somewhere, as was his wont.
He accordingly determined to leave him alone; and doubting not to find a
better servant at Corsignano, he let saddle his palfrey and attach the
valise; but when, being about to depart, he would have paid the host,
never a coin could he come by. Whereat there was no small stir, so that
all the inn was in an uproar, Angiulieri averring that he had been robbed
in the house, and threatening to have them all arrested and taken to
Siena; when, lo, who should make his appearance but Fortarrigo in his
shirt, intent now to steal the clothes, as he had stolen the moneys, of
Angiulieri? And marking that Angiulieri was accoutred for the road:--"How
is this, Angiulieri?" quoth he. "Are we to start so soon? Nay, but wait a
little. One will be here presently that has my doublet in pawn for
thirty-eight soldi; I doubt not he will return it me for thirty-five
soldi, if I pay money down." And while they were yet talking, in came one
that made it plain to Angiulieri that 'twas Fortarrigo that had robbed
him of his money, for he told him the amount that Fortarrigo had lost.
Whereat Angiulieri, in a towering passion, rated Fortarrigo right
soundly, and, but that he stood more in fear of man than of God, would
have suited action to word; and so, threatening to have him hanged by the
neck and proclaimed an outlaw at the gallows-tree of Siena, he mounted
his horse.

Fortarrigo, making as if 'twas not to him, but to another, that
Angiulieri thus spoke, made answer:--"Come now, Angiulieri, we were best
have done with all this idle talk, and consider the matter of substance:
we can redeem for thirty-five soldi, if we pay forthwith, but if we wait
till to-morrow, we shall not get off with less than thirty-eight, the
full amount of the loan; and 'tis because I staked by his advice that he
will make me this allowance. Now why should not we save these three
soldi?" Whereat Angiulieri waxed well-nigh desperate, more particularly
that he marked that the bystanders were scanning him suspiciously, as if,
so far from understanding that Fortarrigo had staked and lost his,
Angiulieri's money, they gave him credit for still being in funds: so he
cried out:--"What have I to do with thy doublet? 'Tis high time thou wast
hanged by the neck, that, not content with robbing me and gambling away
my money, thou must needs also keep me in parley here and make mock of
me, when I would fain be gone." Fortarrigo, however, still persisted in
making believe that Angiulieri did not mean this for him, and only
said:--"Nay, but why wilt not thou save me these three soldi? Think'st
thou I can be of no more use to thee? Prithee, an thou lov'st me, do me
this turn. Wherefore in such a hurry? We have time enough to get to
Torrenieri this evening. Come now, out with thy purse. Thou knowest I
might search Siena through, and not find a doublet that would suit me so
well as this: and for all I let him have it for thirty-eight soldi, 'tis
worth forty or more; so thou wilt wrong me twice over." Vexed beyond
measure that, after robbing him, Fortarrigo should now keep him clavering
about the matter, Angiulieri made no answer, but turned his horse's head,
and took the road for Torrenieri. But Fortarrigo with cunning malice
trotted after him in his shirt, and 'twas still his doublet, his doublet,
that he would have of him: and when they had thus ridden two good miles,
and Angiulieri was forcing the pace to get out of earshot of his
pestering, Fortarrigo espied some husbandmen in a field beside the road a
little ahead of Angiulieri, and fell a shouting to them amain:--"Take
thief! take thief!" Whereupon they came up with their spades and their
mattocks, and barred Angiulieri's way, supposing that he must have robbed
the man that came shouting after him in his shirt, and stopped him and
apprehended him; and little indeed did it avail him to tell them who he
was, and how the matter stood. For up came Fortarrigo with a wrathful
air, and:--"I know not," quoth he, "why I spare to kill thee on the spot,
traitor, thief that thou art, thus to despoil me and give me the slip!"
And then, turning to the peasants:--"You see, gentlemen," quoth he, "in
what a trim he left me in the inn, after gambling away all that he had
with him and on him. Well indeed may I say that under God 'tis to you I
owe it that I have thus come by my own again: for which cause I shall
ever be beholden to you." Angiulieri also had his say; but his words
passed unheeded. Fortarrigo with the help of the peasants compelled him
to dismount; and having stripped him, donned his clothes, mounted his
horse, and leaving him barefoot and in his shirt, rode back to Siena,
giving out on all hands that he had won the palfrey and the clothes from
Angiulieri. So Angiulieri, having thought to present himself to the
cardinal in the March a wealthy man, returned to Buonconvento poor and in
his shirt; and being ashamed for the time to shew himself in Siena,
pledged the nag that Fortarrigo had ridden for a suit of clothes, and
betook him to his kinsfolk at Corsignano, where he tarried, until he
received a fresh supply of money from his father. Thus, then,
Fortarrigo's guile disconcerted Angiulieri's judicious purpose, albeit
when time and occasion served, it was not left unrequited.


Calandrino being enamoured of a damsel, Bruno gives him a scroll,
averring that, if he but touch her therewith, she will go with him: he is
found with her by his wife who subjects him to a most severe and
vexatious examination.

So, at no great length, ended Neifile her story, which the company
allowed to pass with none too much laughter or remark: whereupon the
queen, turning to Fiammetta, bade her follow suit. Fiammetta, with mien
most gladsome, made answer that she willingly obeyed, and thus began:--As
I doubt not, ye know, ladies most debonair, be the topic of discourse
never so well worn, it will still continue to please, if the speaker
knows how to make due choice of time and occasion meet. Wherefore,
considering the reason for which we are here (how that 'tis to make merry
and speed the time gaily, and that merely), I deem that there is nought
that may afford us mirth and solace but here may find time and occasion
meet, and, after serving a thousand turns of discourse, should still
prove not unpleasing for another thousand. Wherefore, notwithstanding
that of Calandrino and his doings not a little has from time to time been
said among us, yet, considering that, as a while ago Filostrato observed,
there is nought that concerns him that is not entertaining, I will make
bold to add to the preceding stories another, which I might well, had I
been minded to deviate from the truth, have disguised, and so recounted
it to you, under other names; but as whoso in telling a story diverges
from the truth does thereby in no small measure diminish the delight of
his hearers, I purpose for the reason aforesaid to give you the narrative
in proper form.

Niccolo Cornacchini, one of our citizens, and a man of wealth, had among
other estates a fine one at Camerata, on which he had a grand house
built, and engaged Bruno and Buffalmacco to paint it throughout; in which
task, for that 'twas by no means light, they associated with them Nello
and Calandrino, and so set to work. There were a few rooms in the house
provided with beds and other furniture, and an old female servant lived
there as caretaker, but otherwise the house was unoccupied, for which
cause Niccolo's son, Filippo, being a young man and a bachelor, was wont
sometimes to bring thither a woman for his pleasure, and after keeping
her there for a few days to escort her thence again. Now on one of these
occasions it befell that he brought thither one Niccolosa, whom a vile
fellow, named Mangione, kept in a house at Camaldoli as a common
prostitute. And a fine piece of flesh she was, and wore fine clothes, and
for one of her sort, knew how to comport herself becomingly and talk

Now one day at high noon forth tripped the damsel from her chamber in a
white gown, her locks braided about her head, to wash her hands and face
at a well that was in the courtyard of the house, and, while she was so
engaged, it befell that Calandrino came there for water, and greeted her
familiarly. Having returned his salutation, she, rather because
Calandrino struck her as something out of the common, than for any other
interest she felt in him, regarded him attentively. Calandrino did the
like by her, and being smitten by her beauty, found reasons enough why he
should not go back to his comrades with the water; but, as he knew not
who she was, he made not bold to address her. She, upon whom his gaze was
not lost, being minded to amuse herself at his expense, let her glance
from time to time rest upon him, while she heaved a slight sigh or two.
Whereby Calandrino was forthwith captivated, and tarried in the
courtyard, until Filippo called her back into the chamber. Returned to
his work, Calandrino sighed like a furnace: which Bruno, who was ever
regardful of his doings for the diversion they afforded him, failed not
to mark, and by and by:--"What the Devil is amiss with thee, comrade
Calandrino?" quoth he. "Thou dost nought but puff and blow." "Comrade,"
replied Calandrino, "I should be in luck, had I but one to help me." "How
so?" quoth Bruno. "Why," returned Calandrino, "'tis not to go farther,
but there is a damsel below, fairer than a lamia, and so mightily in love
with me that 'twould astonish thee. I observed it but now, when I went to
fetch the water." "Nay, but, Calandrino, make sure she be not Filippo's
wife," quoth Bruno. "I doubt 'tis even so," replied Calandrino, "for he
called her and she joined him in the chamber; but what signifies it? I
would circumvent Christ Himself in such case, not to say Filippo. Of a
truth, comrade, I tell thee she pleases me I could not say how."
"Comrade," returned Bruno, "I will find out for thee who she is, and if
she be Filippo's wife, two words from me will make it all straight for
thee, for she is much my friend. But how shall we prevent Buffalmacco
knowing it? I can never have a word with her but he is with me." "As to
Buffalmacco," replied Calandrino: "I care not if he do know it; but let
us make sure that it come not to Nello's ears, for he is of kin to Monna
Tessa, and would spoil it all." Whereto:--"Thou art in the right,"
returned Bruno.

Now Bruno knew what the damsel was, for he had seen her arrive, and
moreover Filippo had told him. So, Calandrino having given over working
for a while, and betaken him to her, Bruno acquainted Nello and
Buffalmacco with the whole story; and thereupon they privily concerted
how to entreat him in regard of this love affair. Wherefore, upon his
return, quoth Bruno softly:--"Didst see her?" "Ay, woe's me!" replied
Calandrino: "she has stricken me to the death." Quoth Bruno:--"I will go
see if she be the lady I take her to be, and if I find that 'tis so,
leave the rest to me." Whereupon down went Bruno, and found Filippo and
the damsel, and fully apprised them what sort of fellow Calandrino was,
and what he had told them, and concerted with them what each should do
and say, that they might have a merry time together over Calandrino's
love affair. He then rejoined Calandrino, saying:--"'Tis the very same;
and therefore the affair needs very delicate handling, for, if Filippo
were but ware thereof, not all Arno's waters would suffice to cleanse us.
However, what should I say to her from thee, if by chance I should get
speech of her?" "I'faith," replied Calandrino, "why, first, first of all,
thou wilt tell her that I wish her a thousand bushels of the good seed of
generation, and then that I am her servant, and if she is fain
of--aught--thou tak'st me?" "Ay," quoth Bruno, "leave it to me."

Supper-time came; and, the day's work done, they went down into the
courtyard, Filippo and Niccolosa being there, and there they tarried a
while to advance Calandrino's suit. Calandrino's gaze was soon riveted on
Niccolosa, and such and so strange and startling were the gestures that
he made that they would have given sight to the blind. She on her part
used all her arts to inflame his passion, primed as she had been by
Bruno, and diverted beyond measure as she was by Calandrino's antics,
while Filippo, Buffalmacco and the rest feigned to be occupied in
converse, and to see nought of what passed. However, after a while, to
Calandrino's extreme disgust, they took their leave; and as they bent
their steps towards Florence:--"I warrant thee," quoth Bruno to
Calandrino, "she wastes away for thee like ice in the sunlight; by the
body o' God, if thou wert to bring thy rebeck, and sing her one or two of
thy love-songs, she'd throw herself out of window to be with thee." Quoth
Calandrino:--"Think'st thou, comrade, think'st thou, 'twere well I
brought it?" "Ay, indeed," returned Bruno. Whereupon:--"Ah! comrade,"
quoth Calandrino, "so thou wouldst not believe me when I told thee
to-day? Of a truth I perceive there's ne'er another knows so well what he
would be at as I. Who but I would have known how so soon to win the love
of a lady like that? Lucky indeed might they deem themselves, if they did
it, those young gallants that go about, day and night, up and down, a
strumming on the one-stringed viol, and would not know how to gather a
handful of nuts once in a millennium. Mayst thou be by to see when I
bring her the rebeck! thou wilt see fine sport. List well what I say: I
am not so old as I look; and she knows it right well: ay, and anyhow I
will soon let her know it, when I come to grapple her. By the very body
of Christ I will have such sport with her, that she will follow me as any
love-sick maid follows her swain." "Oh!" quoth Bruno, "I doubt not thou
wilt make her thy prey: and I seem to see thee bite her dainty vermeil
mouth and her cheeks, that shew as twin roses, with thy teeth, that are
as so many lute-pegs, and afterwards devour her bodily." So encouraged,
Calandrino fancied himself already in action, and went about singing and
capering in such high glee that 'twas as if he would burst his skin. And
so next day he brought the rebeck, and to the no small amusement of all
the company sang several songs to her. And, in short, by frequently
seeing her, he waxed so mad with passion that he gave over working; and a
thousand times a day he would run now to the window, now to the door, and
anon to the courtyard on the chance of catching sight of her; nor did
she, astutely following Bruno's instructions, fail to afford him
abundance of opportunity. Bruno played the go-between, bearing him her
answers to all his messages, and sometimes bringing him messages from
her. When she was not at home, which was most frequently the case, he
would send him letters from her, in which she gave great encouragement to
his hopes, at the same time giving him to understand that she was at the
house of her kinsfolk, where as yet he might not visit her.

On this wise Bruno and Buffalmacco so managed the affair as to divert
themselves inordinately, causing him to send her, as at her request, now
an ivory comb, now a purse, now a little knife, and other such dainty
trifles; in return for which they brought him, now and again, a
counterfeit ring of no value, with which Calandrino was marvellously
pleased. And Calandrino, to stimulate their zeal in his interest, would
entertain them hospitably at table, and otherwise flatter them. Now, when
they had thus kept him in play for two good months, and the affair was
just where it had been, Calandrino, seeing that the work was coming to an
end, and bethinking him that, if it did so before he had brought his love
affair to a successful issue, he must give up all hopes of ever so doing,
began to be very instant and importunate with Bruno. So, in the presence
of the damsel, and by preconcert with her and Filippo, quoth Bruno to
Calandrino:--"Harkye, comrade, this lady has vowed to me a thousand times
that she will do as thou wouldst have her, and as, for all that, she does
nought to pleasure thee, I am of opinion that she leads thee by the nose:
wherefore, as she keeps not her promises, we will make her do so,
willy-nilly, if thou art so minded." "Nay, but, for the love of God, so
be it," replied Calandrino, "and that speedily." "Darest thou touch her,
then, with a scroll that I shall give thee?" quoth Bruno. "I dare,"
replied Calandrino. "Fetch me, then," quoth Bruno, "a bit of the skin of
an unborn lamb, a live bat, three grains of incense, and a blessed
candle; and leave the rest to me." To catch the bat taxed all
Calandrino's art and craft for the whole of the evening; but having at
length taken him, he brought him with the other matters to Bruno: who,
having withdrawn into a room by himself, wrote on the skin some
cabalistic jargon, and handed it to him, saying:--"Know, Calandrino,
that, if thou touch her with this scroll, she will follow thee forthwith,
and do whatever thou shalt wish. Wherefore, should Filippo go abroad
to-day, get thee somehow up to her, and touch her; and then go into the
barn that is hereby--'tis the best place we have, for never a soul goes
there--and thou wilt see that she will come there too. When she is there,
thou wottest well what to do." Calandrino, overjoyed as ne'er another,
took the scroll, saying only:--"Comrade, leave that to me."

Now Nello, whom Calandrino mistrusted, entered with no less zest than the
others into the affair, and was their confederate for Calandrino's
discomfiture; accordingly by Bruno's direction he hied to Florence, and
finding Monna Tessa:--"Thou hast scarce forgotten, Tessa," quoth he,
"what a beating Calandrino gave thee, without the least cause, that day
when he came home with the stones from Mugnone; for which I would have
thee be avenged, and, so thou wilt not, call me no more kinsman or
friend. He is fallen in love with a lady up there, who is abandoned
enough to go closeting herself not seldom with him, and 'tis but a short
while since they made assignation to forgather forthwith: so I would have
thee go there, and surprise him in the act, and give him a sound
trouncing." Which when the lady heard, she deemed it no laughing matter;
but started up and broke out with:--"Alas, the arrant knave! is't thus he
treats me? By the Holy Rood, never fear but I will pay him out!" And
wrapping herself in her cloak, and taking a young woman with her for
companion, she sped more at a run than at a walk, escorted by Nello, up
to Camerata. Bruno, espying her from afar, said to Filippo:--"Lo, here
comes our friend." Whereupon Filippo went to the place where Calandrino
and the others were at work, and said:--"My masters, I must needs go at
once to Florence; slacken not on that account." And so off he went, and
hid himself where, unobserved, he might see what Calandrino would do.
Calandrino waited only until he saw that Filippo was at some distance,
and then he went down into the courtyard, where he found Niccolosa alone,
and fell a talking with her. She, knowing well what she had to do, drew
close to him, and shewed him a little more familiarity than she was wont:
whereupon Calandrino touched her with the scroll, and having so done,
saying never a word, bent his steps towards the barn, whither Niccolosa
followed him, and being entered, shut the door, and forthwith embraced
him, threw him down on the straw that lay there, and got astride of him,
and holding him fast by the arms about the shoulders, suffered him not to
approach his face to hers, but gazing upon him, as if he were the delight
of her heart:--"O Calandrino, sweet my Calandrino," quoth she, "heart of
my body, my very soul, my bliss, my consolation, ah! how long have I
yearned to hold thee in my arms and have thee all my own! Thy endearing
ways have utterly disarmed me; thou hast made prize of my heart with thy
rebeck. Do I indeed hold thee in mine embrace?" Calandrino, scarce able
to move, murmured:--"Ah! sweet my soul, suffer me to kiss thee."
Whereto:--"Nay, but thou art too hasty," replied Niccolosa. "Let me first
feast mine eyes on thee; let me but sate them with this sweet face of

Meanwhile Bruno and Buffalmacco had joined Filippo, so that what passed
was seen and heard by all three. And while Calandrino was thus intent to
kiss Niccolosa, lo, up came Nello with Monna Tessa. "By God, I swear they
are both there," ejaculated Nello, as they entered the doorway; but the
lady, now fairly furious, laid hold of him and thrust him aside, and
rushing in, espied Niccolosa astride of Calandrino. Niccolosa no sooner
caught sight of the lady, than up she jumped, and in a trice was beside
Filippo. Monna Tessa fell upon Calandrino, who was still on the floor,
planted her nails in his face, and scratched it all over: she then seized
him by the hair, and hauling him to and fro about the barn:--"Foul,
pestilent cur," quoth she, "is this the way thou treatest me? Thou old
fool! A murrain on the love I have borne thee! Hast thou not enough to do
at home, that thou must needs go falling in love with strange women? And
a fine lover thou wouldst make! Dost not know thyself, knave? Dost not
know thyself, wretch? Thou, from whose whole body 'twere not possible to
wring enough sap for a sauce! God's faith, 'twas not Tessa that got thee
with child: God's curse on her, whoever she was: verily she must be a
poor creature to be enamoured of a jewel of thy rare quality." At sight
of his wife, Calandrino, suspended, as it were, between life and death,
ventured no defence; but, his face torn to shreds, his hair and clothes
all disordered, fumbled about for his capuche, which having found, up he
got, and humbly besought his wife not to publish the matter, unless she
were minded that he should be cut to pieces, for that she that was with
him was the wife of the master of the house. "Then God give her a bad
year," replied the lady. Whereupon Bruno and Buffalmacco, who by this
time had laughed their fill with Filippo and Niccolosa, came up as if
attracted by the noise; and after not a little ado pacified the lady, and
counselled Calandrino to go back to Florence, and stay there, lest
Filippo should get wind of the affair, and do him a mischief. So
Calandrino, crestfallen and woebegone, got him back to Florence with his
face torn to shreds; where, daring not to shew himself at Camerata again,
he endured day and night the grievous torment of his wife's vituperation.
Such was the issue, to which, after ministering not a little mirth to his
comrades, as also to Niccolosa and Filippo, this ardent lover brought his


Two young men lodge at an inn, of whom the one lies with the host's
daughter, his wife by inadvertence lying with the other. He that lay with
the daughter afterwards gets into her father's bed and tells him all,
taking him to be his comrade. They bandy words: whereupon the good woman,
apprehending the circumstances, gets her to bed with her daughter, and by
divers apt words re-establishes perfect accord.

Calandrino as on former occasions, so also on this, moved the company to
laughter. However, when the ladies had done talking of his doings, the
queen called for a story from Pamfilo, who thus spoke:--Worshipful
ladies, this Niccolosa, that Calandrino loved, has brought to my mind a
story of another Niccolosa; which I am minded to tell you, because 'twill
shew you how a good woman by her quick apprehension avoided a great

In the plain of Mugnone there was not long ago a good man that furnished
travellers with meat and drink for money, and, for that he was in poor
circumstances, and had but a little house, gave not lodging to every
comer, but only to a few that he knew, and if they were hard bested. Now
the good man had to wife a very fine woman, and by her had two children,
to wit, a pretty and winsome girl of some fifteen or sixteen summers, as
yet unmarried, and a little boy, not yet one year old, whom the mother
suckled at her own breast. The girl had found favour in the eyes of a
goodly and mannerly young gentleman of our city, who was not seldom in
those parts, and loved her to the point of passion. And she, being
mightily flattered to be loved by such a gallant, studied how to comport
herself so debonairly as to retain his regard, and while she did so, grew
likewise enamoured of him; and divers times, by consent of both their
love had had its fruition, but that Pinuccio--such was the gallant's
name--shrank from the disgrace that 'twould bring upon the girl and
himself alike. But, as his passion daily waxed apace, Pinuccio, yearning
to find himself abed with her, bethought him that he were best contrive
to lodge with her father, deeming, from what he knew of her father's
economy, that, if he did so, he might effect his purpose, and never a
soul be the wiser: which idea no sooner struck him, than he set about
carrying it into effect.

So, late one evening Pinuccio and a trusty comrade, Adriano by name, to
whom he had confided his love, hired two nags, and having set upon them
two valises, filled with straw or such-like stuff, sallied forth of
Florence, and rode by a circuitous route to the plain of Mugnone, which
they reached after nightfall; and having fetched a compass, so that it
might seem as if they were coming from Romagna, they rode up to the good
man's house, and knocked at the door. The good man, knowing them both
very well, opened to them forthwith: whereupon:--"Thou must even put us
up to-night," quoth Pinuccio; "we thought to get into Florence, but, for
all the speed we could make, we are but arrived here, as thou seest, at
this hour." "Pinuccio," replied the host, "thou well knowest that I can
but make a sorry shift to lodge gentlemen like you; but yet, as night has
overtaken you here, and time serves not to betake you elsewhere, I will
gladly give you such accommodation as I may." The two gallants then
dismounted and entered the inn, and having first looked to their horses,
brought out some supper that they had carried with them, and supped with
the host.

Now the host had but one little bedroom, in which were three beds, set,
as conveniently as he could contrive, two on one side of the room, and
the third on the opposite side, but, for all that, there was scarce room
enough to pass through. The host had the least discomfortable of the
three beds made up for the two friends; and having quartered them there,
some little while afterwards, both being awake, but feigning to be
asleep, he caused his daughter to get into one of the other two beds,
while he and his wife took their places in the third, the good woman
setting the cradle, in which was her little boy, beside the bed. Such,
then, being the partition made of the beds, Pinuccio, who had taken exact
note thereof, waited only until he deemed all but himself to be asleep,
and then got softly up and stole to the bed in which lay his beloved, and
laid himself beside her; and she according him albeit a timorous yet a
gladsome welcome, he stayed there, taking with her that solace of which
both were most fain.

Pinuccio being thus with the girl, it chanced that certain things, being
overset by a cat, fell with a noise that aroused the good woman, who,
fearing that it might be a matter of more consequence, got up as best she
might in the dark, and betook her to the place whence the noise seemed to
proceed. At the same time Adriano, not by reason of the noise, which he
heeded not, but perchance to answer the call of nature, also got up, and
questing about for a convenient place, came upon the cradle beside the
good woman's bed; and not being able otherwise to go by, took it up, and
set it beside his own bed, and when he had accomplished his purpose, went
back, and giving never a thought to the cradle got him to bed. The good
woman searched until she found that the accident was no such matter as
she had supposed; so without troubling to strike a light to investigate
it further, she reproved the cat, and returned to the room, and groped
her way straight to the bed in which her husband lay asleep; but not
finding the cradle there, quoth she to herself:--Alas! blunderer that I
am, what was I about? God's faith! I was going straight to the guests'
bed; and proceeding a little further, she found the cradle, and laid
herself down by Adriano in the bed that was beside it, taking Adriano for
her husband; and Adriano, who was still awake, received her with all due
benignity, and tackled her more than once to her no small delight.

Meanwhile Pinuccio fearing lest sleep should overtake him while he was
yet with his mistress, and having satisfied his desire, got up and left
her, to return to his bed; but when he got there, coming upon the cradle,
he supposed that 'twas the host's bed; and so going a little further, he
laid him down beside the host, who thereupon awoke. Supposing that he had
Adriano beside him:--"I warrant thee," quoth Pinuccio to the host, "there
was never so sweet a piece of flesh as Niccolosa: by the body of God,
such delight have I had of her as never had man of woman; and, mark me,
since I left thee, I have gotten me up to the farm some six times." Which
tidings the host being none too well pleased to learn, said first of all
to himself:--What the Devil does this fellow here? Then, his resentment
getting the better of his prudence:--"'Tis a gross affront thou hast put
upon me, Pinuccio," quoth he; "nor know I what occasion thou hast to do
me such a wrong; but by the body of God I will pay thee out." Pinuccio,

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