[ 001 ] So ended Dioneo's story, whereof the ladies, diversely inclining, one to censure where another found matter for commendation, had discoursed not a little, when the king, having glanced at the sky, and marked that the sun was now low, insomuch that 'twas nigh the vesper hour, still keeping his seat, thus began: [ 002 ] “ Exquisite my ladies, as, methinks, you wot, 'tis not only in minding them of the past and apprehending the present that the wit of mortals consists; but by one means or the other to be able to foresee the future is by the sages accounted the height of wisdom. [ 003 ] Now, to-morrow, as you know, 'twill be fifteen days since, in quest of recreation and for the conservation of our health and life, we, shunning the dismal and dolorous and afflicting spectacles that have ceased not in our city since this season of pestilence began, took our departure from Florence. [ 004 ] Wherein, to my thinking, we have done nought that was not seemly; for, if I have duly used my powers of observation, albeit some gay stories, and of a kind to stimulate concupiscence, have here been told, and we have daily known no lack of dainty dishes and good wine, nor yet of music and song, things, one and all, apt to incite weak minds to that which is not seemly, neither on your part, nor on ours, have I marked deed or word, or aught of any kind, that called for reprehension; [ 005 ] but, by what I have seen and heard, seemliness and the sweet intimacy of brothers and sisters have ever reigned among us. Which, assuredly, for the honour and advantage which you and I have had thereof, is most grateful to me. [ 006 ] Wherefore, lest too long continuance in this way of life might beget some occasion of weariness, and that no man may be able to misconstrue our too long abidance here, and as we have all of us had our day's share of the honour which still remains in me, I should deem it meet, so you be of like mind, that we now go back whence we came: [ 007 ] and that the rather that our company, the bruit whereof has already reached divers others that are in our neighbourhood, might be so increased that all our pleasure would be destroyed. And so, if my counsel meet with your approval, I will keep the crown I have received of you until our departure, which, I purpose, shall be tomorrow morning. Should you decide otherwise, I have already determined whom to crown for the ensuing day. ”
[ 008 ] Much debate ensued among the ladies and young men; but in the end they approved the king's proposal as expedient and seemly; and resolved to do even as he had said. The king therefore summoned the seneschal; and having conferred with him of the order he was to observe on the morrow, he dismissed the company until supper-time. [ 009 ] So, the king being risen, the ladies and the rest likewise rose, and betook them, as they were wont, to their several diversions. Supper-time being come, they supped with exceeding great delight. Which done, they addressed them to song and music and dancing; and, while Lauretta was leading a dance, the king bade Fiammetta give them a song; whereupon Fiammetta right debonairly sang on this wise:
[ 010 ] So came but Love, and brought no jealousy,So blithe, I wot, as I,Dame were there none, be she whoe'er she be.
[ 011 ] If youth's fresh, lusty prideMay lady of her lover well content,Or valour's just renown,Hardihood, prowess tried,Wit, noble mien, discourse most excellent,And of all grace the crown;That she am I, who, fain for love to swoun,There where my hope doth lieThese several virtues all conjoined do see.
[ 012 ] But, for that I less wiseThan me no whit do other dames discern,Trembling with sore dismay,I still the worst surmise,Deeming their hearts with the same flame to burnThat of mine maketh prey:Wherefore of him that is my hope's one stayDisconsolate I sigh,Yea mightily, and daily do me dree.
[ 013 ] If but my lord as trueAs worthy to be loved I might approve,I were not jealous then:But, for that charmer newDoth all too often gallant lure to love,Forsworn I hold all men,And sick at heart I am, of death full fain;Nor lady doth him eye,But I do quake, lest she him wrest from me.
[ 014 ] 'Fore God, then, let each sheList to my prayer, nor e'er in my despiteSuch grievous wrong essay;For should there any beThat by or speech or mien's allurements lightOf him to rob me mayStudy or plot, I, witting, shall find way,My beauty it aby!To cause her sore lament such frenesie.
[ 015 ] As soon as Fiammetta had ended her song, Dioneo, who was beside her, said with a laugh: “ Madam, 'twould be a great courtesy on your part to do all ladies to wit, who he is, that he be not stolen from you in ignorance, seeing that you threaten such dire resentment. ” Several other songs followed; and it being then nigh upon midnight, all, as the king was pleased to order, betook them to rest. [ 016 ] With the first light of the new day they rose, and, the seneschal having already conveyed thence all their chattels, they, following the lead of their discreet king, hied them back to Florence; and in Santa Maria Novella, whence they had set forth, the three young men took leave of the seven ladies, and departed to find other diversions elsewhere, while the ladies in due time repaired to their homes.← PreviousNext →