Whereon, Under The Government Of Madame Pampinea, The Argument Of Each Severall Descourse, Is Not Limitted To Any One Peculiar Subject.
Gracious Ladies, so often as I consider with my selfe, and observe respectively, how naturally you are enclined to compassion; as many times doe I acknowledge, that this present worke of mine, will (in your judgement) appeare to have but a harsh and offensive beginning, in regard of the mournfull remembrance it beareth at the verie entrance of the last Pestilentiall mortality, universally hurtfull to all that beheld it, or otherwise came to knowledge of it. But for all that, I desire it may not be so dreadfull to you, to hinder your further proceeding in reading, as if none were to looke thereon, but with sighes and teares. For, I could rather wish, that so fearefull a beginning, should seeme but as an high and steepy hil appeares to them, that attempt to travell farre on foote, and ascending the same with some difficulty, come afterward to walk upon a goodly even plaine, which causeth the more contentment in them, because the attayning thereto was hard and painfull. For even as pleasures are cut off by griefe and anguish; so sorrowes cease by joyes most sweete and happie arriving.
After this briefe mollestation; briefe I say, because it is contained within small compasse of Writing; immediately followeth the most sweete and pleasant taste of pleasure, whereof (before) I made promise to you. Which (peradventure) could not bee expected by such a beginning, if promise stood not thereunto engaged. And indeed, if I could well have conveyed you to the center of my desire, by any other way, then so rude and rocky a passage as this is, I would gladly have done it. But because without this Narration, we could not demonstrate the occasion how and wherefore the matters hapned, which you shall reade in the ensuing Discourses: I must set them downe (even as constrained thereto by meere necessity) in writing after this manner.
The yeare of our blessed Saviours incarnation, 1348, that memorable mortality happened in the excellent City, farre beyond all the rest in Italy; which plague, by operation of the superiour bodies, or rather for our enormous iniquities, by the just anger of God was sent upon us mortals. Some few yeeres before, it tooke beginning in the Easterne partes, sweeping thence an innumerable quantity of living soules: extending it selfe afterward from place to place Westward, until it seized on the said City. Where neither humane skill or providence, could use any prevention, notwithstanding it was cleansed of many annoyances, by diligent Officers thereto deputed: besides prohibition of all sickly persons enterance, and all possible provision dayly used for conservation of such as were in health, with incessant prayers and supplications of devoute people, for the asswaging of so dangerous a sicknesse.
About the beginning of the yeare, it also began in very strange manner, as appeared by divers admirable effects; yet not as it had done in the East Countries, where Lord or Lady being touched therewith, manifest signes of inevitable death followed thereon, by bleeding at the nose. But here it began with yong children, male and female, either under the armepits, or in the groine by certaine swellings, in some to the bignesse of an Apple, in others like an Egge, and so in divers greater or lesser, which (in their vulgar Language) they termed to be a Botch or Byle. In very short time after, those two infected parts were growne mortiferous, and would disperse abroad indifferently, to all parts of the body; whereupon, such was the quality of the disease, to shew it selfe by blacke or blew spottes, which would appeare on the armes of many, others on their thighes, and every part else of the body: in some great and few, in others small and thicke.
Now, as the Byle (at the beginning) was an assured signe of neere approaching death; so prooved the spots likewise to such as had them: for the curing of which sicknesse it seemed, that the Physitians counsell, the vertue of Medicines, or any application else, could not yeeld any remedy: but rather it plainely appeared, that either the nature of the disease would not endure it, or ignorance in the Physitians could not comprehend from whence the cause proceeded, and so by consequent, no resolution was to be determined. Moreover, beside the number of such as were skilfull in Art, many more both women and men, without ever having any knowledge in Physicke, became Physitians: so that not onely few were healed, but (well-neere) all dyed, within three dayes after the saide signes were seene; some sooner, and others later, commonly without either Feaver, or any other accident.
And this pestilence was yet of farre greater power or violence; for, not onely healthfull persons speaking to the sicke, comming to see them, or ayring cloathes in kindnesse to comfort them, was an occasion of ensuing death: but touching their garments, or any foode whereon the sicke person fed, or any thing else used in his service, seemed to transferre the disease from the sicke to the sound, in very rare and miraculous manner. Among which matter of marvell, let me tell you one thing, which if the eyes of many (as well as mine owne) had not seene, hardly could I be perswaded to write it, much lesse to beleeve it, albeit a man of good credit should report it. I say, that the quality of this contagious pestilence was not onely of such efficacy, in taking and catching it one of another, either men or women: but it extended further, even in the apparent view of many, that the cloathes, or anything else, wherein one died of that disease, being toucht, or lyen on by any beast, farre from the kind or quality of man, they did not onely contaminate and infect the said beast, were it Dogge, Cat, or any other; but also it died very soone after.
Mine owne eyes (as formerly I have said) among divers other, one day had evident experience heereof: for some poore ragged cloathes of linnen and wollen, torne from a wretched body dead of that disease, and hurled in the open streete; two Swine going by, and (according to their naturall inclination) seeking for foode on every dunghill, tossed and tumbled the cloaths with their snouts, rubbing their heads likewise upon them; and immediately, each turning twice or thrice about, they both fell downe dead on the saide cloathes, as being fully infected with the contagion of them: which accident, and other the like, if not far greater, begat divers feares and imaginations in them that beheld them, all tending to a most inhumane and uncharitable end; namely, to flie thence from the sicke, and touching any thing of theirs, by which meanes they thought their health should be safely warranted.
Some there were, who considered with themselves, that living soberly, with abstinence from all superfluity; it would be a sufficient resistance against all hurtfull accidents. So combining themselves in a sociable manner, they lived as separatists from all other company, being shut up in such houses, where no sicke body should be neere them. And there, for their more security, they used delicate viands and excellent wines, avoiding luxurie, and refusing speech to one another, not looking forth at the windowes, to heare no cries of dying people, or see any coarses carried to buriall; but having musicall instruments, lived there in all possible pleasure. Others, were of a contrary opinion, who avouched, that there was no other physicke more certaine, for a disease so desperate, then to drinke hard, be merry among themselves, singing continually, walking every where, and satisfying their appetites with whatsoever they desired, laughing, and mocking at every mournefull accident, and so they vowed to spend day and night: for now they would goe to one Taverne, then to another, living without any rule or measure; which they might very easily doe, because every one of them, (as if he were to live no longer in this World) had even forsaken all things that hee had. By meanes whereof, the most part of the houses were become common, and all strangers, might do the like (if they pleased to adventure it) even as boldly as the Lord or owner, without any let or contradiction.
Yet in all this their beastly behaviour, they were wise enough, to shun (so much as they might) the weake and sickly: In misery and affliction of our City, the venerable authority of the Lawes, as well divine as humane, was even destroyed, as it were, through want of the lawfull Ministers of them. For they being all dead, or lying sicke with the rest, or else lived so solitary, in such great necessity of servants and attendants, as they could not execute any office, whereby it was lawfull for every one to do as he listed.
Betweene these two rehearsed extremities of life, there were other of a more moderate temper, not being so daintily dieted as the first, nor drinking so dissolutely as the second; but used all things sufficient for their appetites, and without shutting up themselves, walked abroad, some carrying sweete nosegayes of flowers in their hands; others odoriferous herbes, and others divers kinds of spiceries, holding them to their noses, and thinking them most comfortable for the braine, because the ayre seemed to be much infected by the noysome smell of dead carkases, and other hurtfull savours. Some other there were also of more inhumane minde (howbeit peradventure it might be the surest) saying, that there was no better physicke against the pestilence, nor yet so good, as to flie away from it, which argument mainely moving them, and caring for no body but themselves, very many, both men and women, forsooke the City, their owne houses, their Parents, Kindred, Friends, and Goods, flying to other mens dwellings else-where. As if the wrath of God, in punnishing the sinnes of men with this plague, would fall heavily upon none, but such as were enclosed within the City wals; or else perswading themselves, that not any should there bee left alive, but that the finall ending of all things was come.
Now albeit these persons in their diversity of opinions died not all, so undoubtedly they did not all escape; but many among them becomming sicke, and making a generall example of their flight and folly, among them that could not stirre out of their beds, they languished more perplexedly then the other did. Let us omit, that one Citizen fled after another, and one neighbour had not any care of another, Parents nor kinred never visiting them, but utterly they were forsaken on all sides: this tribulation pierced into the hearts of men, and with such a dreadfull terrour, that one Brother forsooke another, the Unkle the Nephew, the Sister the Brother, and the Wife her Husband: nay, a matter much greater, and almost incredible; Fathers and Mothers fled away from their owne Children, even as if they had no way appertained to them. In regard whereof, it could be no otherwise, but that a countlesse multitude of men and women fell sicke; finding no charity among their friends, except a very few, and subject to the avarice of servants, who attended them constrainedly, (for great and unreasonable wages) yet few of those attendants to be found any where too. And they were men or women but of base condition, as also of groser understanding, who never before had served in any such necessities, nor indeed were any way else to be imployed; but to give the sicke person such things as hee called for, or to awaite the houre of his death; in the performance of which service, oftentimes for gaine, they lost their owne lives.
In this extreame calamity, the sicke being thus forsaken of neighbors, kinred, and friends, standing also in such need of servants; a custome came up among them, never heard of before, that there was not any woman, how noble, young, or faire soever shee was, but falling sicke, shee must of necessity have a man to attend her, were hee young or otherwise, respect of shame or modesty no way prevailing, but all parts of her body must be discovered to him, which (in the like urgency) was not to be seene by any but women: whereon ensued afterward, that upon the parties healing and recovery, it was the occasion of further dishonesty, which many being more modestly curious of, refused such disgracefull attending, chusing rather to die, then by such helpe to bee healed. In regard whereof, as well through the want of convenient remedies, (which the sicke by no meanes could attaine unto) as also the violence of the contagion, the multitude of them that died night and day, was so great, that it was a dreadfull sight to behold, and as much to heare spoken of. So that meere necessity (among them that remained living) begat new behaviours, quite contrary to all which had beene in former times, and frequently used among the City Inhabitants.
The custome of precedent dayes (as now againe it is) was, that women, kinred, neighbours, and friends, would meete together at the deceased parties house, and there, with them that were of neerest alliance, expresse their hearts sorrow for their friends losse. If not thus, they would assemble before the doore, with many of the best Cittizens and kindred, and (according to the quality of the deceased) the Cleargy met there likewise, and the dead body was carried (in comely manner) on mens shoulders, with funerall pompe of Torch light, and singing, to the Church appointed by the deceased. But these seemely orders, after that the fury of the pestilence began to encrease, they in like manner altogether ceased, and other new customes came in their place; because not onely people died, without having any women about them, but infinites also past out of this life, not having any witnesse, how, when, or in what manner they departed. So that few or none there were, to deliver outward shew of sorrow and grieving: but insteed thereof, divers declared idle joy and rejoycing, a use soone learned of immodest women, having put off all feminine compassion, yea, or regard of their owne welfare.
Very few also would accompany the body to the grave, and they not any of the Neighbours, although it had beene an honourable Citizen, but onely the meanest kinde of people, such as were grave-makers, coffin-bearers, or the like, that did these services onely for money, and the beere being mounted on their shoulders, in all hast they would runne away with it, not perhaps to the Church appointed by the dead, but to the neerest at hand, having some foure or sixe poore Priests following, with lights or no lights, and those of the silliest; short service being said at the buriall, and the body unreverently throwne into the first open grave they found. Such was the pittifull misery of poore people, and divers, who were of better condition, as it was most lamentable to behold; because the greater number of them, under hope of healing, or compelled by poverty, kept still within their house weake and faint, thousands falling sicke daily, and having no helpe, or being succoured any way with foode or physicke, all of them died, few or none escaping.
Great store there were, that died in the streetes by day or night, and many more beside, although they died in their houses; yet first they made it knowne to their neighbours, that their lives perished, rather by the noysome smell of dead and putrified bodies, then by any violence of the disease in themselves. So that of these and the rest, dying in this manner every where, the neighbours observed one course of behaviour, (moved thereto no lesse by feare, that the smell and corruption of dead bodies should harme them, then charitable respect of the dead) that themselves when they could, or being assisted by some bearers of coarses, when they were able to procure them, would hale the bodies (already dead) out of their houses, laying them before their doores, where such as passed by, especially in the mornings, might see them lying in no meane numbers. Afterward, Bieres were brought thither, and such as might not have the helpe of Bieres, were glad to lay them on tables; and Bieres have bin observed, not onely to be charged with two or three dead bodies at once, but many times it was seene also, that the wife with the husband, two or three Brethren together; yea, the Father and the Mother, have thus beene carried along to the grave upon one Biere.
Moreover, oftentimes it hath beene seene, that when two Priests went with one Crosse to fetch the body; there would follow (behind) three or foure bearers with their Bieres, and when the Priests intended the buriall but of one body, sixe or eight more have made up the advantage, and yet none of them being attended by any seemly company, lights, teares, or the very least decencie, but it plainly appeared, that the very like account was then made of Men or Women, as if they had bene Dogges or Swine. Wherein might manifestly bee noted, that that which the naturall course of things could not shew to the wise, with rare and little losse, to wit, the patient support of miseries and misfortunes, even in their greatest height: not onely the wise might now learne, but also the very simplest people; and in such sort, that they should alwaies bee prepared against all infelicities whatsoever.
Hallowed ground could not now suffice, for the great multitude of dead bodies, which were daily brought to every Church in the City, and every houre in the day; neither could the bodies have proper place of buriall, according to our ancient custome: wherefore, after that the Churches and Church-yards were filled, they were constrained to make use of great deepe ditches, wherein they were buried by hundreds at once, ranking dead bodies along in graves, as Merchandizes are laide along in ships, covering each after other with a small quantity of earth, and so they filled at last up the whole ditch to the brim.
Now, because I would wander no further in everie particularity, concerning the miseries happening in our Citie: I tell you, that extremities running on in such manner as you have heard, little lesse spare was made in the Villages round about; wherein (setting aside enclosed Castles which were now filled like to small Cities) poore Labourers and Husband-men, with their whole Families, dyed most miserably in outhouses, yea, and in the open fieldes also; without any assistance of physicke, or helpe of servants; and likewise in the high-wayes, or their ploughed landes, by day or night indifferently, yet not as men, but like brute beasts.
By meanes whereof, they became lazie and slothfull in their dayly endevours, even like to our Citizens; not minding or medling with their wonted affaires: but, as a waiting for death every houre, imployed all their paines, not in caring any way for themselves, their cattle, or gathering the fruits of the earth, or any of their accustomed labours; but rather wasted and consumed, even such as were for their instant sustenance. Whereupon, it fell so out, that their Oxen, Asses, Sheepe, and Goates, their Swine, Pullen, yea their verie Dogges, the truest and faithfullest servants to men, being beaten and banished from their houses, went wildly wandring abroad in the fields, where the Corne grew still on the ground without gathering, or being so much as reapt or cut. Many of the foresaid beasts (as endued with reason) after they had pastured themselves in the day time, would returne full fed at night home to their houses, without any government of Heardsmen, or any other.
How many faire Palaces! How many goodly Houses! How many noble habitations, filled before with families of Lords and Ladies, were then to be seene emptie, without any one there dwelling, except some silly servant? How many Kindreds, worthy of memory! How many great inheritances! And what plenty of riches; were left without any true successours? How many good men! How many woorthy Women! How many valiant and comely young men, whom none but Galen, Hippocrates, and Aeesculapius (if they were living) could have bene reputed any way unhealthfull; were seene to dine at morning with their Parents, Friends, and familiar confederates, and went to sup in another world with their Predecessors?
It is no meane breach to my braine, to make repetition of so many miseries; wherefore, being willing to part with them as easily as I may: I say that our Citie being in this case, voide of inhabitants, it came to passe (as afterward I understoode by some of good credite) that in the venerable Church of S. Marie la Neufue, on a Tuesday morning, there being then no other person, after the hearing of divine Service, in mourning habits (as the season required) returned thence seven discrete young Gentlewomen, all allyed together, either by friendship, neighbor-hood, or parentage. She among them that was most entred into yeares, exceeded not eight and twenty; and the yongest was no lesse then eighteene; being of Noble descent, faire forme, adorned with exquisite behaviour, and gracious modesty.
Their names I could report, if just occasion did not forbid it, in regard of the occasions following by them related, and because times heereafter shall not taxe them with reproofe; the lawes of pleasure being more straited now adayes (for the matters before revealed) then at that time they were, not onely to their yeares but to many much riper. Neither will I likewise minister matter to rash heades (over-readie in censuring commendable life) any way to impaire the honestie of Ladies, by their idle detracting speeches. And therefore, to the end that what each of them saith, may be comprehended without confusion; I purpose to stile them by names, wholly agreeing, or (in part) conformable to their qualities. The first and most aged, we will name Pampinea; the second Fiametta; the third Philamena; the fourth Aemilia; the fift Lauretta; the sixt Neiphila; and the last we terme (not without occasion) Elissa, or Eliza. All of them being assembled at a corner of the Church, not by any deliberation formerly appointed, but meerely by accident, and sitting, as it were in a round ring: after divers sighs severelly delivered, they conferred on sundry matters answerable to the sad qualitie of the time, and within a while after, Madam Pampinea began in this manner.
Faire Ladies, you may (no doubt as well as I) have often heard, that no injury is offered to any one, by such as make use but of their owne right. It is a thing naturall for everie one which is borne in this World, to aide, conserve, and defend her life so long as shee can; and this right hath bene so powerfully permitted, that although it hath sometimes happened, that (to defend themselves) men have beene slaine without any offence: yet Lawes have allowed it to be so, in whose solicitude lieth the best living of all mortals. How much more honest and just is it then for us, and for every other well-disposed person, to seeke for (without wronging any) and to practise all remedies that wee can, for the conservation of our lives? When I well consider, what we have heere done this morning, and many other already past (remembring (withall) what likewise is proper and convenient for us:) I conceive (as all you may do the like) that everie one of us hath a due respect of her selfe, and then I mervaile not, but rather am much amazed (knowing none of us to be deprived of a Womans best judgement) that wee seeke not after some remedies for our selves, against that, which everie one among us, ought (in reason) to feare.
Heere we meete and remaine (as it seemeth to mee) in no other manner, then as if we would or should be witnesses, to all the dead bodies at rest in their grave; or else to listen, when the religious Sisters heere dwelling (whose number now are well-neere come to bee none at all) sing Service at such houres as they ought to doe; or else to acquaint all commers hither (by our mourning habits) with the quality and quantitie of our hearts miseries. And when we part hence, we meete with none but dead bodies; or sicke persons transported from one place to another; or else we see running thorow the City (in most offensive fury) such as (by authoritie of publike Lawes) were banished hence, onely for their bad and brutish behaviour in contempt of those Lawes, because now they know, that the executors of them are dead and sicke. And if not these, more lamentable spectacles present themselves to us, by the base rascality of the City; who being fatted with our blood, tearme themselves Grave-makers, and in meere contemptible mockeries of us, are mounted on horsebacke, gallopping every where, reproaching us with our losses and misfortunes, with lewd and dishonest songs: so that we can heare nothing else but such and such are dead, and such and such lie a dying: here hands wringing, and every where most pittifull complaining.
If we returne home to our houses (I know not whether your case be answerable to mine) when I can finde none of all my Family, but onely my poore waiting Chamber-maide; so great are my feares, that the very haire on my head declareth my amazement, and wheresoever I go or sit downe, methinkes I see the ghostes and shadowes of deceased friends, not with such lovely lookes as I was wont to behold them, but with most horrid and dreadfull regards, newly stolne upon them I know not how. In these respects, both heere, else-where, and at home in my house, methinkes I am alwaies ill, and much more (in mine owne opinion) then any other body, not having meanes or place of retirement, as all we have, and none to remaine heere but onely we.
Moreover, I have often heard it said, that in tarrying or departing, no distinction is made in things honest or dishonest; onely appetite will be served; and be they alone or in company, by day or night, they do whatsoever their appetite desireth: not secular persons onely, but such as are recluses, and shut up within Monasteries, breaking the Lawes of obedience, and being addicted to pleasures of the flesh, are become lascivious and dissolute, making the world beleeve, that whatsoever is convenient for other women, is no way unbeseeming them, as thinking in that manner to escape.
If it be so, as manifestly it maketh shew of it selfe; What do we here? What stay we for? And whereon do we dreame? Why are we more respectlesse of our health, then all the rest of the Citizens? Repute we our selves lesse precious then all the other? Or do we beleeve, that life is linked to our bodies with stronger chaines, then to others, and that therefore we should not feare any thing that hath power to offend us? Wee erre therein, and are deceived. What brutishnesse were it in us, if we should urge any such beleefe? So often as we call to minde, what and how many gallant yong men and women, have beene devoured by this cruell pestilence; we may evidently observe a contrary argument.
Wherefore, to the end, that by being over-scrupulous and carelesse, we fall not into such danger, whence when we would (perhaps) we cannot recover our selves by any meanes: I thinke it meete (if your judgement therein shall jumpe with mine) that all of us as we are (at least, if we will doe as divers before us have done, and yet dally endeavour to doe) shunning death by the honest example of other, make our retreate to our Country houses, wherewith all of us are sufficiently furnished, and there to delight our selves as best we may, yet without transgressing (in any act) the limits of reason. There shall we heare the pretty birds sweetly singing, see the hilles and plaines verdantly flouring; the Corne waving in the field like the billowes of the Sea, infinite store of goodly trees, and the Heavens more fairely open to us, then here we can behold them. And although they are justly displeased, yet will they not there deny us better beauties to gaze on, then the walles in our City (emptied of Inhabitants) can affoord us.
Moreover, the Ayre is much fresh and cleere, and generally, there is farre greater abundance of all things whatsoever, needefull at this time for preservation of our health, and lesse offence or mollestation then we find here.
And although Country people die, as well as heere our Citizens doe, the griefe notwithstanding is so much the lesse, as the houses and dwellers there are rare, in comparison of them in our City. And beside, if we well observe it, here we forsake no particular person, but rather we may tearme our selves forsaken; in regard that our Husbands, Kinred, and Friends, either dying, or flying from the dead, have left us alone in this great affliction, even as if we were no way belonging unto them. And therefore, by following this counsell, we cannot fall into any reprehension; whereas if we neglect and refuse it, danger, distresse, and death (perhaps) may ensue thereon.
Wherefore, if you thinke good, I would allow it for well done, to take our waiting women, with all such things as are needfull for us, and (as this day) betake our selves to one place, to morrow to another, taking there such pleasure and recreation, as so sweete a season liberally bestoweth on us. In which manner we may remaine, till we see (if death otherwise prevent us not) what end the gracious Heavens have reserved for us. I would have you also to consider, that it is no lesse seemely for us to part hence honestly, then a great number of other Women to remaine here immodestly.
The other Ladies and Gentlewomen, having heard Madam Pampinea, not onely commended her counsell, but desiring also to put it in execution; had already particularly consulted with themselves, by what meanes they might instantly depart from thence. Neverthelesse, Madam Philomena, who was very wise, spake thus.
Albeit faire Ladies, the case propounded by Madam Pampinea hath beene very well delivered; yet (for all that) it is against reason for us to rush on, as we are overready to doe. Remember that we are all women, and no one among us is so childish, but may consider, that when wee shall be so assembled together, without providence or conduct of some man, we can hardly governe our selves. Wee are fraile, offensive, suspitious, weake spirited, and fearefull: in regard of which imperfections, I greatly doubt (if we have no better direction then our owne) this society will sooner dissolve it selfe, and (perchance) with lesse honour to us, then if we never had begunne it. And therefore it shall bee expedient for us, to provide before we proceede any further. Madam Eliza hereon thus replyed.
Most true it is, that men are the chiefe or head of women, and without their order, sildome times do any matters of ours sort to recommendable end. But what meanes shal we make for men? We all know well enough, that the most part of our friends are dead, and such as are living, some be dispersed heere, others there, into divers places and companies, where we have no knowledge of their being; and to accept of strangers, would seeme very inconvenient: wherefore as we have such care of our health, so should we bee as respective withall, in ordering our intention, that wheresoever we ayme at our pleasure and contentment, reproofe and scandall may by no meanes pursue us.
While this discourse thus held among the Ladies, three young Gentlemen came foorth of the Church (yet not so young, but the youngest had attained to five and twenty yeares:) in whom neyther malice of the time, losse of friends or kindred, nor any fearefull conceit in themselves, had the power to quench affection, but (perhaps) might a little coole it, in regard of the queazie season. One of them called himselfe Pamphilus, the second Philostratus, and the last Dioneus. Each of them was very affable and well conditioned, and walked abroad (for their greater comfort in such a time of tribulation) to try if they could meete with their fayre friends, who (happily) might all three be among these seaven, and the rest kinne unto them in one degree or other. No sooner were these Ladies espyed by them, but they met with them also in the same advantage; whereupon Madam Pampinea (amiably smiling) said.
See how graciously Fortune is favourable to our beginning, by presenting our eyes with three so wise and worthy young Gentlemen, who will gladly be our guides and servants, if wee doe not disdaine them the office. Madam Neiphila began immediatly to blush, because one of them had a Love in the company, and said; Good Madam Pampinea take heed what you say, because (of mine owne knowledge) nothing can be spoken but good of them all; and I thinke them all to be absolutely sufficient for a farre greater employment then is here intended: as being well worthy to keepe company not onely with us, but them of more faire and precious esteeme then we are. But because it appeareth plainly enough, that they beare affection to some heere among us, I feare, if wee should make the motion, that some dishonor or reproofe may ensue thereby, and yet without blame either in us or them. That is nothing at all, answered Madam Philomena, let me live honestly, and my Conscience not checke me with any crime; speake then who can to the contrary, God and truth shall enter armes for me. I wish that they were as willing to come, as all we are to bid them welcome: for truly (as Madam Pampinea saide) we may very well hope, that Fortune will bee furtherous to our purposed journey.
The other Ladies hearing them speake in such manner, not only were silent to themselves, but all with one accord and consent said, that it were well done to call them, and to acquaint them with their intention, entreating their company in so pleasant a voyage. Whereupon, without any more words, Madam Pampinea mounting on her feete (because one of the three was her Kinsman) went towards them, as they stood respectively observing them; and (with a pleasing countenance) giving them a gracious salutation, declared to them their deliberation, desiring (in behalfe of all the rest) that with a brotherly and modest mind, they would vouchsafe to beare them company.
The Gentlemen imagined at the first apprehension, that this was spoken in mockage of them; but when they better perceived that her words tended to solenme earnest, they made answer, That they were all hartily ready to doe them any service. And without any further delaying, before they departed thence, took order for their aptest furnishing with all convenient necessaries, and sent word to the place of their first appointment. On the morrow, being Wednesday, about breake of day, the Ladies, with certaine of their attending Gentlewomen, and the three Gentlemen, having three servants to waite on them, left the Citie to beginne their journey; and having travelled about a leagues distance, arrived at the place of their first purpose of stay, which was seated on a little hill, distant (on all sides) from any high way, plentifully stored with faire spreading Trees, affoording no meane delight to the eye. On the top of all, stood a stately Palace, having a large and spacious Court in the middest round engirt with Galleries, Hals, and Chambers, every one separate alone by themselves, and beautified with Pictures of admirable cunning. Nor was there any want of Gardens, Meadowes, and other most pleasant Walkes, with Welles and Springs of faire running waters, all encompassed with branching Vines, fitter for curious and quaffing bibbers, then women sober, and singularly modest.
This Pallace the company found fully fitted and prepared, the beddes in the Chambers made and daintily ordred, thickly strewed with variety of flowers, which could not but give them the greater contentment. Dioneus, who (above the other) was a pleasant young gallant, and full of infinite witty conceits, saide; Your wit (faire Ladies) hath better guided us hither, then our providence: I know not how you have determined to dispose of your cares; as for mine owne, I left them at the Cittie gate, when I came thence with you: and therefore let your resolution bee, to spend the time here in smiles and singing, (I meane, as may fittest agree with your dignity) or else give me leave to go seeke my sorrowes agains, and so to remaine discontented in our desolate City. Madam Pampinea having in like manner shaken off her sorrowes, delivering a modest and bashfull smile, replyed in this manner.
Dioneus, well have you spoken, it is fit to live merrily, and no other occasion made us forsake the sicke and sad Cittie. But, because such things as are without meane or measure, are subject to no long continuance: I, who began the motion, whereby this societie is thus assembled, and ayme at the long lasting thereof, doe hold it verie convenient, that wee should all agree, to have one chiefe Commander among us, in whom the care and providence should consist, for direction of our merriment, performing honour and obedience to the partie, as to our Patrone and sole Governour. And because every one may feele the burthen of solicitude, as also the pleasure of commanding, and consequently have a sensible taste of both, whereby no envy may arise on any side, I could wish, that each one of us (for a day onely) should feele both the burthen and honour, and the person so to be advanced, shall receive it from the election of us all. As for such as are to succeed, after him or her that hath had the dayes of dominion, the party thought fit for succession, must be named so soone as night approacheth. And being in this eminency (according as he or she shall please) he may order and dispose how long the time of his rule shall last, as also of the place and maner, where best we may continue our delight.
These words were highly pleasing to them all, and by generall voice, Madame Pampinea was chosen Queene for the first day. Whereupon, Madame Philomena ranne presently to a Bay-tree, because she had often heard what honor belonged to those branches, and how worthy of honour they were, that rightfully were crowned with them, plucking off divers branches, shee made of them an apparant and honourable Chaplet, placing it (by generall consent) upon her head; and this so long as their company continued, manifested to all the rest, the signall of Dominion, and Royall greatnesse.
After that Madame Pampinea was thus made Queen, she commanded publique silence, and causing the Gentlemens three servants, and the wayting women also (being foure in number) to be brought before her, thus she beganne. Because I am to give the first example to you all, whereby proceeding on from good to better, our company may live in order and pleasure, acceptable to all, and without shame to any; I create Parmeno (servant to Dioneus) Maister of the Houshold, hee taking the care and charge of all our Trayne, and for whatsoever appertayneth to our Hall service. I appoint also, that Silisco servant to Pamphilus, shall bee our Dispenser and Treasurer, performing that which Parmeno shal command him. Likewise that Tindaro serve as Groome of the Chamber, to Philostratus his Master, and the other two, when his fellowes impeached by their offices, cannot be present. Misia my Chambermaid, and Licisca belonging to Philomena, shall serve continually in the Kitchin, and diligently make ready such Vyands, as shal be delivered them by Parmeno. Chimera, waitingwoman to Lauretta, and Stratilia appertaining to Fiammetta, shall have the charge and governement of the Ladies Chambers, and preparing all places where we shall be present. Moreover, we will and commaund everie one of them (as they desire to deserve our grace) that wheresoever they goe or come, or whatsoever they heare or see: they especially respect to bring us tydings of them. After shee had summarily delivered them these orders, very much commended of everie one, she arose fairely, saying: Heere we have Gardens, Orchardes, Medowes, and other places of sufficient pleasure, where every one may sport and recreate themselves: but so soone as the ninth houre striketh, then all to meet here againe, to dine in the coole shade.
This jocund company having received licence from their Queene to disport themselves, the Gentlemen walked with the Ladies into a goodly Garden, making Chaplets and Nosegayes of divers flowers, and singing silently to themselves. When they had spent the time limitted by the Queene, they returned into the house, where they found that Parmeno had effectually executed his office. For, when they entred into the hall, they saw the Tables covered with delicate white Napery, and the glasses looking like silver, they were so transparantly cleere, all the roome beside strewed with Flowers of Juniper. When the Queen and all the rest had washed, according as Parmeno gave order, so every one was seated at the Table: the Viands (delicately drest) were served in, and excellent wines plentifully delivered, none attending but the three servants, and little or no lowd Table-talke passing among them.
Dinner being ended, and the Tables withdrawne (all the Ladies, and the Gentlemen likewise, being skilfull both in singing and dancing, and playing on instruments artificially) the Queene commanded, that divers Instruments should be brought, and (as she gave charge) Dioneus tooke a Lute, and Fiammetta a Violl de gamba, and began to play an excellent daunce. Whereupon, the Queene with the rest of the Ladies, and the other two young Gentlemen (having sent their attending servants to dinner) paced foorth a daunce very majestically. And when the dance was ended, they sung sundry excellent Canzonets, outwearing so the time, untill the Queene commanded them all to rest, because the houre did necessarily require it. The Gentlemen having their Chambers farre severed from the Ladies, curiously strewed with flowers, and their beds adorned in exquisite manner, as those of the Ladies were not a jotte inferiour to them; the silence of the night bestowed sweet rest on them al. In the morning, the Queene and all the rest being risen, accounting over much sleepe to be very hurtfull, they walked abroad into a goodly Meadow, where the grasse grew verdantly, and the beames of the Sun heated not overviolently, because the shades of faire spreading Trees, gave a temperate calmnesse, coole and gentle winds fanning their sweet breath pleasingly among them. All of them being there set downe in a round ring, and the Queen in the middest, as being the appointed place of eminency, she spake:
You see (faire company) that the Sunne is highly mounted, the heate (elsewhere) too extreme for us, and therefore here is our fittest refuge, the ayre being so coole, delicate, and acceptable, and our folly well worthy reprehension, if we should walke further, and speede worse. Heere are Tables, Cards, and Chesse, as your dispositions may bee addicted. But if mine advice might passe for currant, I would admit none of those exercises, because they are too troublesome both to them that play, and such as looke on. I could rather wish, that some quaint discourse might passe among us, a tale or fable related by some one, to urge the attention of all the rest. And so wearing out the warmth of the day, one prety Novell will draw on another, untill the Sun be lower declined, and the heates extremity more diminished, to solace our selves in some other place, as to our minds shall seeme convenient. If therefore what I have sayde bee acceptable to you (I purposing to follow in the same course of pleasure,) let it appeare by your immediate answere; for, till the Evening, I thinke we can devise no exercise more commodious for us.
The Ladies and Gentlemen allowed of the motion, to spend the time in telling pleasant tales; whereupon the Queene saide: Seeing you have approved mine advice, I grant free permission for this first day, that every one shall relate, what to him or her is best pleasing. And turning her selfe to Pamphilus (who was seated on her right hand) gave him favour, with one of his Novels, to begin the recreation: which he not daring to deny, and perceiving generall attention prepared for him, thus he began.[Hide Induction]
Faire Ladies, it hath happened many times, that he who striveth to scorne and floute other men, and especially in occasions deserving to be respected, proveth to mocke himselfe with the selfe same matter, yea, and to his no meane danger beside. As you shall perceive by a Tale, which I intend to tell you, obeying therein the command of our Queene, and according to the subject by her enjoyned. In which discourse, you may first observe, what great mischance happened to one our Citizens; and yet afterward, how (beyond all hope) he happily escaped.
Not long since, there lived in the City of Trevers, an Almaine or Germaine, named Arriguo, who being a poore man, served as a Porter, or burden-bearer for money, when any man pleased to employ him. And yet, notwithstanding his poore and meane condition, he was generally reputed, to be of good and sanctified life. In which regard (whether it were true or no, I know not) it happened, that when he died (at least as the men of Trevers themselves affirmed) in the very instant houre of his departing, all the Belles in the great Church of Trevers, (not being pulled by the helpe of any hand) beganne to ring: which being accounted for a miracle, every one saide; that this Arriguo had bene, and was a Saint. And presently all the people of the City ran to the house where the dead body lay, and carried it (as a sanctified body) into the great Church, where people, halt, lame, and blind, or troubled with any other diseases, were brought about it, even as if every one should forth-with be holpen, onely by their touching the body.
It came to passe, that in so great a concourse of people, as resorted thither from all parts; three of our Citizens went to Trevers, one of them being named Stechio, the second Martellino, and the third Marquiso, all being men of such condition, as frequented Princes Courts, to give them delight by pleasant and counterfetted qualities. None of these men having ever beene at Trevers before, seeing how the people crowded thorow the streetes, wondered greatly thereat: but when they knew the reason why the throngs ranne on heapes in such sort together, they grew as desirous to see the Shrine, as any of the rest. Having ordered all affaires at their lodging, Marquiso saide; It is fit for us to see this Saint, but I know not how we shall attaine thereto, because (as I have heard) the place is guarded by Germaine Souldiers, and other warlike men, commanded thither by the Governour of this City, least any outrage should be there committed: And beside, the Church is so full of people, as we shall never compasse to get neere. Martellino being also as forward in desire to see it, presently replied. All this difficulty cannot dismay me, but I will go to the very body of the Saint it selfe. But how? quoth Marquiso. I will tell thee, answered Martellino. I purpose to go in the disguise of an impotent lame person, supported on the one side by thy selfe, and on the other by Stechio, as if I were not able to walke of my selfe: And you two thus sustaining me, desiring to come neere the Saint to cure me; every one will make way, and freely give you leave to go on.
This devise was very pleasing to Marquiso and Stechio, so that (without any further delaying) they all three left their lodging, and resorting into a secret corner aside, Martellino so writhed and mishaped his hands, fingers, and armes, his legges, mouth, eyes, and whole countenance, that it was a dreadfull sight to looke upon him, and whosoever beheld him, would verily have imagined, that hee was utterly lame of his limbes, and greatly deformed in his body. Marquiso and Stechio, seeing all sorted so well as they could wish, tooke and led him towards the Church, making very pitious moane, and humbly desiring (for Gods sake) of every one that they met, to grant them free passage: whereto they charitably condiscended.
Thus leading him on, crying; Beware there before, and give way for Gods sake, they arrived at the body of Saint Arriguo, that (by his helpe) he might be healed. And while all eyes were diligently observing, what miracle would be wrought on Martellino, he having sitten a small space upon the Saints body, and being sufficiently skilfull in counterfeiting, began first to extend forth the one of his fingers, next his hand, then his arme, and so (by degrees) the rest of his body. Which when the people saw, they made such a wonderfull noyse in praise of Saint Arriguo, even as if it had thundered in the Church.
Now it chanced by ill fortune, that there stood a Florentine neere to the body, who knew Martellino very perfectly; but appearing so monstrously mishapen, when he was brought into the Church, hee could take no knowledge of him. But when he saw him stand up and walke, hee knew him then to be the man indeede; whereupon he saide. How commeth it to passe, that this fellow should be so miraculously cured, that never truly was any way impotent? Certaine men of the City hearing these words, entred into further questioning with him, demanding, how he knew that the man had no such imperfection? Well enough (answered the Florentine) I know him to be as direct in his limbes and body, as you; I, or any of us all are: but indeede, he knowes better how to dissemble counterfet trickes, then any man else that ever I saw.
When they heard this, they discoursed no further with the Florentine, but pressed on mainely to the place where Martellino stood, crying out aloude. Lay hold on this Traytor, a mocker of God, and his holy Saints, that had no lamenesse in his limbes; but to make a mocke of our Saint and us, came hither in false and counterfeit manner. So laying hands uppon him, they threw him against the ground, having him by the haire on his head, and tearing the garments from his backe, spurning him with their feete, and beating him with their fists, that many were much ashamed to see it.
Poore Martellino was in a pittifull case, crying out for mercy, but no man would heare him; for, the more he cryed, the more still they did beat him, as meaning to leave no life in him: which Stechio and Marquiso seeing, considered with themselves, that they were likewise in a desperate case; and therefore, fearing to be as much misused, they cryed out among the rest, Kill the counterfet knave, lay on loade, and spare him not; neverthelesse, they tooke care how to get him out of the peoples handes, as doubting, least they would kill him indeede, by their extreame violence.
Sodainly, Marquiso bethought him how to do it, and proceeded thus. All the Sergeants for Justice standing at the Church doore, hee ran with all possible speede to the Potestates Lieutenant, and said unto him. Good my Lord Justice, helpe me in an hard case; yonder is a villaine that hath cut my purse, I desire he may bee brought before you, that I may have my money againe. He hearing this, sent for a dozen of the Sergeants, who went to apprehend unhappy Martellino, and recover him from the peoples fury, leading him on with them to the Palace, no meane crowds thronging after him, when they heard that he was accused to bee a Cutpurse. Now durst they meddle no more with him, but assisted the Officers; some of them charging him in like manner, that hee had cut their purses also.
Upon these clamours and complaints, the Potestates Lieutenant (being a man of rude quality) tooke him sodainly aside, and examined him of the crimes wherewith he was charged. But Martellino, as making no account of these accusations, laughed, and returned scoffing answeres. Whereat the Judge, waxing much displeased, delivered him over to the Strappado, and stood by himselfe, to have him confesse the crimes imposed on him, and then to hang him afterward. Being let downe to the ground, the Judge still demaunded of him, whether the accusations against him were true, or no? Affirming, that it nothing avayled him to deny it: whereupon hee thus spake to the Judge. My Lord, I am heere ready before you, to confesse the truth; but I pray you, demaund of all them that accuse me, when and where I did cut their purses, and then I wil tell you that, which (as yet) I have not done, otherwise I purpose to make you no more answers.
Well (quoth the Judge) thou requirest but reason; and calling divers of the accusers, one of them saide, that he lost his purse eight dayes before; another saide six, another foure, and some saide the very same day. Which Martellino hearing, replyed. My Lord, they all lie in their throats, as I will plainly prove before you. I would to God I had never set foot within this City, as it is not many houres since my first entrance, and presently after mine arrivall, I went (in evill houre I may say for me) to see the Saints body, where I was thus beaten as you may beholde. That all this is true which I say unto you, the Seigneurie Officer that keeps your Booke of presentations, will testifie for me, as also the Host where I am lodged. Wherefore good my Lord, if you finde all no otherwise, then as I have said, I humbly entreate you, that upon these bad mens reportes and false informations, I may not be thus tormented, and put in perill of my life.
While matters proceeded in this manner, Marquiso and Stechio, understanding how roughly the Potestates Lieutenant dealt with Martellino, and that he had already given him the Strappado; were in heavy perplexity, saying to themselves; we have carried this businesse very badly, redeeming him out of the Frying-pan, and flinging him into the fire. Whereupon, trudging about from place to place, and meeting at length with their Host, they told him truly how all had happened, whereat hee could not refraine from laughing. Afterward, he went with them to one Master Alexander Agolante, who dwelt in Trevers, and was in great credite with the Cities cheefe Magistrate, to whom hee related the whole Discourse; all three earnestly entreating him, to commisserate the case of poore Martellino.
Master Alexander, after he had laughed heartily at this hotte peece of service, went with him to the Lord of Trevers; prevailing so well with him, that he sent to have Martellino brought before him. The Messengers that went for him, found him standing in his shirt before the Judge, very shrewdly shaken with the Strappado, trembling and quaking pitifully. For the Judge would not heare any thing in his excuse; but hating him (perhaps) because hee was a Florentine: flatly determined to have him hanged by the necke, and would not deliver him to the Lord, untill in meere despight he was compeld to do it. The Lord of Trevers, when Martellino came before him, and had acquainted him truly with every particular: Master Alexander requested, that he might be dispatched thence for Florence, because he thought the halter to be about his necke, and that there was no other helpe but hanging. The Lord, smiling (a long while) at the accident, and causing Martellino to be handsomely apparrelled, delivering them also his Passe, they escaped out of further danger, and tarried no where, till they came unto Florence.[Hide First Novell]
Much merriment was among the Ladies, hearing this Tale of Martellinos misfortunes, so familiarly reported by Madam Neiphila, and of the men, it was best respected by Philostratus, who sitting neerest unto Neiphila, the Queene commanded his Tale to be the next, when presently he began to speake thus.
Gracious Ladies, I am to speake of universall occasions, mingled with some misfortunes in part, and partly with matters leaning to love, as many times may happen to such people, that trace the dangerous pathes of amorous desires, or have not learned perfectly, to say S. Julians pater noster, having good beddes of their owne, yet casually meete with worser Lodging.
In the time of Azzo, Marquesse of Ferrara, there was a Marchant named Rinaldo de Este, who being one day at Bologna, about some especiall businesse of his owne; his occasions there ended, and riding from thence towards Verona, he fell in company with other Horsemen, seeming to be Merchants like himselfe, but indeede were Theeves, men of most badde life and conversation; yet he having no such mistrust of them, rode on, conferring with them very familiarly. They perceiving him to be a Merchant, and likely to have some store of money about him, concluded betweene themselves to rob him, so soone as they found apt place and opportunity. But because he should conceive no such suspition, they rode on like modest men, talking honestly and friendly with him, of good parts and disposition appearing in him, offering him all humble and gracious service, accounting themselves happy by his companie, as hee returned the same courtesie to them, because hee was alone, and but one servant with him.
Falling from one discourse to another, they beganne to talke of such prayers, as men (in journey) use to salute God withall; and one of the Theeves (they being three in number) spake thus to Rinaldo. Sir, let it be no offence to you, that I desire to know, what prayer you most use when thus you travell on the way? Whereto Rinaldo replyed in this manner. To tell you true Sir, I am a man grosse enough in such Divine matters, as medling more with Merchandize, then I do with Bookes. Neverthelesse, at all times when I am thus in journey, in the morning before I depart my Chamber, I say a Pater noster, and an Ave Maria for the soules of the father and mother of Saint Julian; and after that, I pray God and S. Julian to send me a good lodging at night. And let me tell you Sir, that very oftentimes heeretofore, I have met with many great dangers upon the way, from all which I still escaped, and evermore (when night drew on) I came to an exceeding good Lodging. Which makes mee firmely beleeve, that Saint Julian (in honour of whom I speake it) hath beggd of God such great grace for me; and mee thinkes, that if any day I should faile of this prayer in the morning: I cannot travaile securely, nor come to a good lodging. No doubt then Sir (quoth the other) but you have saide that prayer this morning? I would be sory else, said Rinaldo, such an especiall matter is not to be neglected.
He and the rest, who had already determined how to handle him before they parted, saide within themselves: Look thou hast said thy praier, for when we have thy money, Saint Julian and thou shift for thy lodging. Afterward, the same man thus againe conferd with him. As you Sir, so I have ridden many journies, and yet I never used any such prayer, although I have heard it very much commended, and my lodging hath proved never the worser. Perhaps this verie night will therein resolve us both, whether of us two shall be the best lodged, you that have saide the Prayer, or I that never used it at all. But I must not deny, that in sted thereof, I have made use of some verses; as Dirupisti, or the Intemerata, or De profundis, which are (as my Grandmother hath often told mee) of very great vertue and efficacy.
Continuing thus in talke of divers things, winning way, and beguiling the time, still waiting when their purpose should sort to effect: it fortuned, that the Theeves seeing they were come neere to a Towne, called Chasteau Guillaume, by the foord of a River, the houre somewhat late, the place solitarie, and thickely shaded with Trees, they made their assault; and having robd him, left him there on foote, stript into his shirt, saying to him. Goe now and see, whether thy Saint Julian will allow thee this night a good lodging, or no, for our owne we are sufficiently provided; so passing the River, away they rode. Rinaldoes servant, seeing his Master so sharply assayled, like a wicked villaine, would not assist him in any sort: but giving his horse the spurres, never left gallopping, untill hee came to Chasteau Guillaume, where hee entred upon the point of night, providing himselfe of a lodging, but not caring what became of his Master.
Rinaldo remaining there in his shirt, bare-foot and bare-legged, the weather extremely colde, and snowing incessantly, not knowing what to doe, darke night drawing on, and looking round about him, for some place where to abide that night, to the end he might not dye with colde: he found no helpe at all there for him, in regard that (no long while before) the late warre had burnt and wasted all, and not so much as the least Cottage left. Compelled by the coldes violence, his teeth quaking, and all his body trembling, hee trotted on towards Chausteau Guillaume, not knowing, whether his man was gone thither or no, or to what place else: but perswaded himselfe, that if he could get entrance, there was no feare of finding succour. But before he came within halfe a mile of the Towne, the night grew extreamely darke, and arriving there so late, hee found the gates fast lockt, and the Bridges drawne up, so that no entrance might be admitted.
Grieving greatly heereat, and being much discomforted, rufully hee went spying about the walls, for some place wherein to shrowd himselfe, at least, to keepe the snow from falling upon him. By good hap, hee espied an house upon the wall of the Towne, which had a terrace jutting out as a penthouse, under which he purposed to stand all the night, and then to get him gone in the morning. At length, hee found a doore in the wall, but very fast shut, and some small store of strawe lying by it, which he gathered together, and sitting downe thereon very pensively; made many sad complaints to Saint Julian, saying: This was not according to the trust he reposed in her. But Saint Julian, taking compassion upon him, without any over-long tarying; provided him of a good lodging, as you shall heare how.
In this towne of Chasteau Guillaume, lived a young Lady, who was a widdow, so beautifull and comely of her person, as sildome was seene a more lovely creature. The Marquesse Azzo most dearely affected her, and (as his choysest Jewell of delight) gave her that house to live in, under the terrace whereof poore Rinaldo made his shelter. It chaunced the day before, that the Marquesse was come thither, according to his frequent custome, to weare away that night in her company, she having secretly prepared a Bath for him, and a costly supper beside. All things being ready, and nothing wanting but the Marquesse his presence: suddenly a Post brought him such Letters, which commanded him instantly to horsebacke, and word hee sent to the Lady, to spare him for that night, because urgent occasions called him thence, and hee rode away immediately.
Much discontented was the Lady at this unexpected accident, and not knowing now how to spend the time, resolved to use the Bath which shee had made for the Marquesse, and (after supper) betake her selfe to rest, and so she entred into the Bath. Close to the doore where poore Rinaldo sate, stoode the Bath, by which meanes, shee being therein, heard all his quivering moanes, and complaints, seeming to be such, as the Swanne singing before her death: whereupon, shee called her Chamber-maide, saying to her. Goe up above, and looke over the terrace on the wall downe to this doore, and see who is there, and what he doth. The Chamber-maide went up aloft, and by a little glimmering in the ayre, she saw a man sitting in his shirt, bare on feete and legges, trembling in manner before rehearsed. She demanding of whence, and what he was; Rinaldoes teeth so trembled in his head, as very hardly could he forme any words, but (so well as he could) told her what he was, and how he came thither: most pittifully entreating her, that if she could affoord him any helpe, not to suffer him to starve there to death with cold.
The Chamber-maide, being much moved to compassion, returned to her Lady, and tolde her all; she likewise pittying his distresse, and remembring shee had the key of that doore, whereby the Marquesse both entred and returned, when he intended not to be seene of any, said to her Maide. Goe, and open the doore softly for him; we have a good supper, and none to helpe to eate it, and if he be a man likely, we can allow him one nights lodging too. The Chamber-maide, commending her Lady for this charitable kindnesse, opened the doore, and seeing hee appeared as halfe frozen, shee said unto him. Make hast good man, get thee into this Bath, which yet is good and warme, for my Lady her selfe came but newly out of it. Whereto very gladly he condiscended, as not tarrying to be bidden twise; finding himselfe so singularly comforted with the heate thereof, even as if hee had beene restored from death to life. Then the Lady sent him garments, which lately were her deceased husbands, and fitted him so aptly in all respects, as if purposely they had beene made for him.
Attending in further expectation, to know what else the Lady would commaund him; hee began to remember God and Saint Julian, hartily thanking her, for delivering him from so bad a night as was threatned towards him, and bringing him to so good entertainment. After all this, the Lady causing a faire fire to be made in the neerest Chamber beneath, went and sate by it her selfe, demaunding how the honest man fared. Madame, answered the Chamber-maide, now that he is in your deceased Lords garments, he appeareth to be a very goodly Gentleman, and (questionlesse) is of respective birth and breeding, well deserving this gracious favour which you have affoorded him. Goe then (quoth the Lady) and conduct him hither, to sit by this fire, and sup heere with mee, for I feare he hath had but a sorrie supper. When Rinaldo was entred into the Chamber, and beheld her to be such a beautifull Lady, accounting his fortune to exceede all comparison, he did her most humble reverence, expressing so much thankefulnesse as possibly he could, for this her extraordinary grace and favour.
The Lady fixing a stedfast eye upon him, well liking his gentle language and behaviour, perceiving also, how fitly her deceased husbands apparell was formed to his person, and resembling him in all familiar respects, he appeared (in her judgement) farre beyond the Chambermaides commendations of him; so praying him to sit downe by her before the fire, she questioned with him, concerning this unhappy nights accident befalne him, wherein he fully resolved her, and shee was the more perswaded, by reason of his servants comming into the Towne before night, assuring him, that he should be found for him early in the morning.
Supper being served in to the Table, and hee seated according as the Lady commanded; shee began to observe him very considerately; for he was a goodly man, compleate in all perfection of person, a delicate pleasing countenance, a quicke alluring eye, fixed and constant, not wantonly gadding, in the joviall youthfulnesse of his time, and truest temper for amorous apprehension; all these were as battering engines against a Bulwarke of no strong resistance, and wrought strangely upon her flexible affections. And though shee fed heartily, as occasion constrained, yet her thoughts had entertained a new kinde of diet, digested onely by the eye; yet so cunningly concealed, that no motive to immodesty could be discerned. Her mercy thus extended to him in misery, drew on (by Table discourse) his birth, education, parents, friends, and alies; his wealthy possessions by Merchandize, and a sound stability in his estate, but above all (and best of all) the single and sole condition of a batcheler; an apt and easie steele to strike fire, especially upon such quicke taking tinder, and in a time favoured by Fortune.
No imbarment remained, but remembrance of the Marquesse, and that being summoned to her more advised consideration, her youth and beauty stood up as conscious accusers, for blemishing her honour and faire repute, with lewd and luxurious life, far unfit for a Lady of her degree, and well worthy of generall condemnation. What should I further say? upon a short conference with her Chamber-maide, repentance for sinne past, and solemne promise of a constant conversion, thus shee delivered her minde to Rinaldo.
Sir, as you have related your Fortunes to mee, by this your casuall happening hither, if you can like the motion so well as shee that makes it, my deceased Lord and Husband living so perfectly in your person; this house, and all mine is yours; and of a widdow I will become your wife, except (unmanly) you deny me. Rinaldo hearing these words, and proceeding from a Lady of such absolute perfections, presuming upon so proud an offer, and condemning himselfe of folly if he should refuse it, thus replied. Madam, considering that I stand bound for ever heereafter, to confesse that you are the gracious preserver of my life, and I no way able to returne requitall; if you please so to shadow mine insufficiencie, and to accept me and my fairest fortunes to doe you service: let me die before a thought of deniall, or any way to yeeld you the least discontentment.
Heere wanted but a Priest to joyne their hands, as mutuall affection already had done their hearts, which being sealed with infinit kisses, the Chamber-maide called up Friar Roger her Confessor, and wedding and bedding were both effected before the bright morning. In breefe, the Marquesse having heard of the marriage, did not mislike it, but confirmed it by great and honourable giftes; and having sent for his dishonest Servant, he dispatched him (after sound reprehension) to Ferrara, with Letters to Rinaldoes Father and Friends, of all the accidents that had befalne him. Moreover, the very same morning, the three Theeves that had robbed, and so ill intreated Rinaldo, for another facte by them the same night committed, were taken, and brought to the Towne of Chasteau Guillaume, where they were hanged for their offences, and Rinaldo with his wife rode to Ferrara.[ Hide Second Novell ]
The fortunes of Rinaldo de Este, being heard by the Ladies and Gentlemen, they admired his happinesse, and commended his devotion to Saint Julian, who (in such extreame necessity) sent him so good succour. Nor was the Lady to be blamed, for leaving base liberty, and converting to the chaste embraces of the marriage bed, the dignity of Womens honour, and eternall disgrace living otherwise. While thus they descanted on the happy night betweene her and Rinaldo, Madam Pampinea sitting next to Philostratus, considering, that her Discourse must follow in order, and thinking on what shee was to say; the Queene had no sooner sent out her command, but she being no lesse faire then forward, began in this manner.
Ladies of great respect, the more we conferre on the accidents of Fortune, so much the more remaineth to consider on her mutabilities, wherein there is no need of wonder, if discreetly we observe that al such things as we fondly tearme to be our owne, are in her power, and so (consequently) change from one to another, without any stay or arrest (according to her concealed judgement) or setled order (at least) that can bee knowne to us. Now, although these things appeare thus dayly to us, even apparantly in all occasions, and as hath beene discerned by some of our precedent Discourses; yet notwithstanding, seeing it pleaseth the Queene, that our arguments should aime at these ends, I will adde to the former tales another of my owne, perhaps not unprofitable for the hearers, nor unpleasing in observation.
Sometime heeretofore, there dwelt in our Cittie, a Knight named Signior Theobaldo, who (according as some report) issued from the Family of Lamberti, but others derive him of the Agolanti; guiding (perhaps) their opinion heerein, more from the traine of Children, belonging to the saide Theobaldo (evermore equall to that of the Agolanti) then any other matter else. But setting aside from which of these two houses he came, I say, that in his time he was a very wealthy Knight, and had three sonnes; the first being named Lamberto, the second Theobaldo, and the third Agolanto, all goodly and gracefull youths: howbeit, the eldest had not compleated eighteene yeares, when Signior Theobaldo the Father deceased, who left them all his goods and inheritances. And they, seeing themselves rich in ready monies and revennewes, without any other governement then their owne voluntary disposition, kept no restraint upon their expences, but maintained many servants, and store of unvalewable Horses, beside Hawkes and Hounds, with open house for all commers; and not onely all delights else fit for Gentlemen, but what vanities beside best agreed with their wanton and youthfull appetites.
Not long had they run on this race, but the Treasures lefte them by their Father, began greatly to diminish; and their Revennewes suffised not, to support such lavish expences as they had begun: but they fell to engaging and pawning their inheritances, selling one to day, and another to morrow, so that they saw themselves quickely come to nothing, and then poverty opened their eyes, which prodigality had before clozed up. Heereupon, Lamberto (on a day) calling his Brethren to him, shewed them what the honors of their Father had beene, to what height his wealth amounted, and now to what an ebbe of poverty it was falne, only thorow their inordinate expences. Wherefore hee counselled them, (as best he could) before further misery insulted over them, to make sale of the small remainder that was left, and then to betake themselves unto some other abiding, where fairer Fortune might chance to shine uppon them.
This advice prevailed with them; and so, without taking leave of any body, or other solemnity then closest secrecie, they departed from Florence, not tarrying in any place untill they were arrived in England. Comming to the City of London, and taking there a small house upon yearely rent, living on so little charge as possibly might be, they began to lend out money at use: wherein Fortune was so favourable to them, that (in few yeares) they had gathered a great summe of mony: by means whereof it came to passe, that one while one of them, and afterward another, returned backe againe to Florence: where, with those summes, a great part of their inheritances were redeemed, and many other bought beside. Linking themselves in marriage, and yet continuing their usances in England; they sent a Nephew of theirs thither, named Alessandro, a yong man, and of faire demeanor, to maintaine their stocke in employment: while they three remained stil in Florence, and growing forgetful of their former misery, fell againe into as unreasonable expences as ever, never respecting their houshold charges, because they had good credite among the Merchants, and the monies still sent from Alessandro, supporting their expences divers yeeres.
The dealings of Alessandro in England grew verie great, for hee lent out much money to many Gentlemen, Lords, and Barons of the Land, upon engagement of their Mannors; Castles, and other revennues: from whence he derived immeasurable benefite. While the three Brethren held on in their lavish expences, borrowing moneys when they wanted untill their supplies came from England, whereon (indeede) was theyr onely dependance: it fortuned, that (contrary to the opinion of all men) warre happened betweene the King of England, and one of his sonnes, which occasioned much trouble in the whole Countrey, by taking part on either side, some with the sonne, and other with the Father. In regard whereof, those Castles and places pawned to Alessandro, were sodainely seized from him, nothing then remaining, that turned him any profite. But living in hope day by day, that peace would be concluded betweene the Father and the Sonne, he never doubted, but all things then should be restored to him, both the principall and interest, and therfore he would not depart out of the Countrey.
The three Brethren at Florence, bounding within no limites their disordered spending; borrowed dayly more and more. And after some few yeares, the creditors seeing no effect of their hopes to come from them, all credit being lost with them, and no repayment of promised dues, they were imprisoned, their Landes and all they had, not suffising to pay the moitie of Debts, but their bodies remained in prison for the rest, theyr Wives and young children being sent thence, some to one village, some to another, so that nothing now was to be expected, but poverty and misery of life for ever. As for honest Alessandro, who had awaited long time for peace in England, perceyving there was no likelyhoode of it; and considering also, that (beside his tarrying there in vaine to recover his dues) he was in danger of his life; without any further deferring, he set away for Italy. It came to passe, that as he yssued foorth of Bruges, hee saw a young Abbot also journeying thence, being cloathed in white, accompanied with divers Monkes, and a great traine before, conducting the needfull Carriage. Two auncient Knights, kinsmen to the King, followed after; with whom Alessandro acquainted himselfe, as having formerly known them, and was kindely accepted into their company. Alessandro riding along with them, courteously requested to know, what those Monks were that rode before, and such a traine attending on them? Whereto one of the Knights thus answered.
He that rideth before, is a yong Gentleman, and our Kinsman, who is newly elected Abbot of one of the best Abbeys in England, and because he is more yong in yeeres, then the decrees for such a dignity do allow, we travaile with him to Rome, to entreat our Holy Father, that his.youth may be dispensed withall, and he confirmed in the said dignitie; but hee is not to speake a word to any person. On rode this new Abbot, sometimes before his Traine, and other whiles after, as we see great Lords use to do, when they ride upon the High-wayes.
It chanced on a day, that Alessandro rode somewhat neere to the Abbot, who stedfastly beholding him, perceived that he was a very comely young man, so affable, lovely, and gracious, that even in this first encounter, he had never seene any man before that better pleased him. Calling him a little closer, he began to conferre familiarly with him, demanding what he was, whence he came, and whether he travelled. Alessandro imparted freely to him all his affaires, in every thing satisfying his demands, and offering (although his power was small) to doe him all the service he could.
When the Abbot had heard his gentle answeres, so wisely and discreetly delivered, considering also (more particularly) his commendable carriage, hee tooke him to be (at the least) a well-borne Gentleman, and far differing from his owne logger headed traine. Wherefore, taking compassion on his great misfortunes, he comforted him very kindly, wishing him to live alwayes in good hope. For, if he were vertuous and honest, he should surely attaine to the seate from whence Fortune had throwne him, or rather much higher. Intreating him also, that seeing he journied towards Tuscany, as he himselfe did the like, to continue stil (if he pleased) in his company. Alessandro most humbly thanked him for such gracious comfort; protesting, that he would be alwaies readie to do whatsoever he commanded.
The Abbot riding on, with newer crotchets in his braine then he had before the sight of Alessandro, it fortuned, that after divers dayes of travaile, they came to a small Country Village, which affoorded little store of Lodging, and yet the Abbot would needes lye there. Alessandro, being well acquainted with the Hoste of the house, willed him to provide for the Abbot and his people, and then to lodge him where hee thought it meetest. Now before the Abbots comming thither, the Harbenger that marshalled all such matters, had provided for his Traine in the Village, some in one place, and others elsewhere, in the best maner that the Towne could yeelde. But when the Abbot had supt, a great part of the night being spent, and every one else at his rest; Alessandro demaunded of the Hoste, what provision he had made for him, and how hee should be lodged that night?
In good sadnesse Sir (quoth the Host) you see that my house is full of Guests, so that I and my people, must gladly sleepe on the tables and benches: Neverthelesse, next adjoyning to my Lord Abbots Chamber, there are certaine Corn-lofts, whether I can closely bring you, and making shift there with a slender Pallet-bed, it may serve for one night, insted of a better. But mine Host (quoth Alessandro) how can I passe thorow my Lords Chamber, which is so little, as it would not allow Lodging for any of his Monkes? If I had remembred so much (said the Host) before the Curtaines were drawne, I could have lodged his Monkes in the Corne-lofts, and then both you and I might have slept where now they doe. But feare you not, my Lords Curtaines are close drawne, hee sleepeth (no doubt) soundly, and I can conveigh you thither quietly enough, without the least disturbance to him, and a Pallet-bed shall be fitted there for you. Alessandro perceiving that all this might be easily done, and no disease offered to the Abbot, accepted it willingly, and went thither without any noyse at all.
My Lord Abbot, whose thoughts were so busied about amorous desires, that no sleepe at all could enter his eyes, heard all this talke between the Host and Alessandro, and also where hee was appointed to Lodge, he saide thus within himselfe. Seeing Fortune hath fitted me with a propitious time, to compasse the happinesse of my hearts desire; I know no reason why I should refuse it. Perhaps, I shall never have the like offer againe, or ever be enabled with such an opportunitie. So, beeing fully determined to prosecute his intention, and perswading himself also, that the silence of the night had bestowed sleepe on all the rest; with a lowe and trembling voyce, he called Alessandro, advising him to come and lye downe by him, which (after some few faint excuses) he did, and putting off his cloaths, lay downe by the Abbot, being not a little proude of so gracious a favour.
The Abbot, laying his arme over the others body, began to imbrace and hugge him; even as amorous friends (provoked by earnest affection), use to doe. Whereat Alessandro verie much mervayling, and being an Italian himselfe, fearing least this folly in the Abbot, would convert to foule and dishonest action, shrunke modestly from him. Which the Abbot perceiving, and doubting least Alessandro would depart and leave him, pleasantly smiling, and with bashfull behaviour baring his stomack, he tooke Alessandroes hand, and laying it thereon, saide; Alessandro, let all bad thoughts of bestiall abuse be farre off from thee, and feele here, to resolve thee from all such feare. Allessandro feeling the Abbots brest, found there two pretty little mountaines, round, plumpe, and smooth, appearing as if they had beene of polished Ivory; whereby he perceived, that the Abbot was a woman: which, setting an edge on his youthful desires, made him fall to embracing, and immediately he offered to kisse her; but she somewhat rudely repulsing him, as halfe offended, saide.
Alessandro, forbeare such boldnesse, uppon thy lives perill, and before thou further presume to touch me, understand what I shall tell thee. I am (as thou perceivest) no man, but a woman; and departing a Virgin from my Fathers House, am travelling towards the Popes holinesse, to the end that he should bestow me in marriage. But the other day, when first I beheld thee, whether it proceeded from thy happinesse in fortune, or the fatall houre of my owne infelicity for ever, I know not; I conceyved such an effectuall kinde of liking towardes thee, as never did Woman love a man more truely then I doe thee having sworn within my soule to make thee my Husband before any other; and if thou wilt not accept me as thy wife, set a locke upon thy lippes concerning what thou hast heard, and depart hence to thine owne bed againe.
No doubt, but that these were strange newes to Alessandro, and seemed meerely as a miracle to him. What shee was, he knew not, but in regard of her traine and company, hee reputed her to be both noble and rich, as also she was wonderfull faire and beautifull. His owne fortunes stood out of future expectation by his kinsmens overthrow, and his great losses in England; wherefore, upon an opportunity so fairely offered, he held it no wisedome to returne refusall, but accepted her gracious motion, and referred all to her disposing. Shee arising out of her bed, called him to a little Table standing by, where hung a faire Crucifixe upon the wall; before which, and calling him to witnesse, that suffered such bitter and cruell torments on his Crosse, putting a Ring upon his finger, there she faithfully espoused him, refusing all the world, to be onely his: which being on either side confirmed solemnly, by an holy Vow, and chaste kisses; shee commanded him backe to his Chamber, and she returned to her bed againe, sufficiently satisfied with her Loves acceptation, and so they journied on till they came to Rome.
When they had rested themselves there for some few dayes, the supposed Abbot, with the two Knights, and none else in company but Alessandro, went before the Pope, and having done him such reverence as beseemed, the Abbot began to speake in this manner.
Holy Father (as you know much better then any other) everie one that desireth to live well and vertuously, ought to shunne (so farre as in them lyeth) all occasions that may induce to the contrarie. To the end therefore, that I (who desire nothing more) then to live within the compasse of a vertuous conversation, may perfect my hopes in this behalfe: I have fled from my Fathers Court, and am come hither in this habite as you see, to crave therein your holy and fatherly furtherance. I am daughter to the King of England, and have sufficiently furnished my selfe with some of his Treasures, that your Holinesse may bestow me in marriage; because mine unkind Father, never regarding my youth and beauty (inferior to few in my native country) would marry me to the King of North-Wales, an aged, impotent, and sickely man. Yet let me tell your sanctity, that his age and weakenesse hath not so much occasioned my Right, as feare of mine owne youth and frailety; when being married to him, instead of loyall and unstained life, lewd and dishonest desires might make me to wander, by breaking the divine Lawes of wedlocke, and abusing the royall blood of my Father.
As I travailed hither with this vertuous intention, our Lord, who onely knoweth perfectly, what is best fitting for all his creatures; presented mine eyes (no doubt in his meere mercy and goodnesse) with a man meete to be my husband, which (pointing to Alessandro) is this young Gentleman standing by me, whose honest, vertuous, and civill demeanour, deserveth a Lady of farre greater worth, although (perhaps) Nobility in blood be denied him, and may make him seeme not so excellent, as one derived from Royall discent. Holy and religious vowes have past betweene us both, and the Ring on his finger, is the firme pledge of my faith and constancie, never to accept any other man in marriage, but him onely, although my Father, or any else doe dislike it. Wherefore (holy Father) the principall cause of my comming hither, being already effectually concluded on, I desire to compleat the rest of my Pilgrimage, by visiting the sanctified places in this City, whereof there are great plenty: And also, that sacred marriage, being contracted in the presence of God onely, betweene Alessandro and my selfe, may by you be publikely confirmed, and in an open congregation. For, seeing God hath so appointed it, and our soules have so solemnely vowed it, that no disaster whatsoever can alter it: you being Gods Vicar here on earth, I hope will not gainesay, but confirme it with your fatherly benediction, that wee may live in Gods feare, and dye in his favour.
Perswade your selves (faire Ladies) that Alessandro was in no meane admiration, when hee heard, that his wife was daughter to the King of England, unspeakable joy (questionlesse) wholly overcame him: but the two Knights were not a little troubled and offended, at such a straunge and unexpected accident, yea, so violent were their passions, that had they beene any where else, then in the Popes presence, Alessandro had felt their furie, and (perhaps) the Princesse her selfe too. On the other side, the Pope was much amazed at the habite she went disguised in, and likewise at the election of her husband; but, perceiving there was no resistance to be made against it, hee yeelded the more willingly to satisfie her desire. And therefore, having first comforted the two Knights, and made peace betweene them, the Princesse, and Alessandro, he gave order for the rest that was to be done.
When the appointed day for the solemnity was come, hee caused the Princesse (cloathed in most rich and royall garments) to appeare before all the Cardinals, and many other great persons then in presence, who were come to this worthy Feast, which hee had caused purposely to bee prepared, where she seemed so faire and goodly a Lady, that every eye was highly delighted to behold her, commending her with no meane admiration. In like manner was Alessandro greatly honoured by the two Knights, being most sumptuous in appearance, and not like a man that had lent money to usury, but rather of very royall quality; the Pope himselfe celebrating the marriage betweene them, which being finished, with the most magnificent pompe that could be devised, hee gave them his benediction, and licenced their departure thence.
Alessandro, his Princesse and her traine thus leaving Rome, they would needes visite Florence, where the newes of this accident was (long before) noysed, and they received by the Citizens in royall manner. There did shee deliver the three brethren out of prison, having first payed all their debts, and reseated them againe (with their wives) in their former inheritances and possessions. Afterward, departing from Florence, and Agolanto, one of the Uncles travailing with them to Paris; they were there also most honourably entertained by the King of France. From whence the two Knights went before for England, and prevailed so successefully with the King; that hee received his daughter into grace and favour, as also his Sonne in law her husband, to whom hee gave the order of Knighthoode, and (for his greater dignitie) created him Earle of Cornewall.
And such was the noble spirit of Alessandro, that he pacified the troubles betweene the King and his sonne, whereon ensued great comfort to the Kingdome, winning the love and favour of all the people; and Agolanto (by the meanes of Alessandro) recovered all that was due to him and his brethren in England, returning richly home to Florence, Count Alessandro (his kinsman) having first dub'd him Knight. Long time he lived in peace and tranquility, with the faire Princesse his wife, proving to be so absolute in wisedome, and so famous a Souldier; that (as some report) by assistance of his Father in law, he conquered the Realme of Ireland, and was crowned King thereof.
Madam Lauretta, sitting next to Madam Pampinea, and seeing how triumphantly she had finished her discourse; without attending any thing else, spake thus.
Gracious Ladies, we shall never behold (in mine opinion) a greater act of Fortune, then to see a man so suddainly exalted, even from the lowest depth of poverty, to a Royall estate of dignity; as the discourse of Madam Pampinea hath made good, by the happy advancement of Alessandro. And because it appeareth necessary, that whosoever discourseth on the subject proposed, should no way vary from the very same termes; I shall not shame to tell a tale, which, though it containe far greater mishapes then the former, may sort to as happy an issue, albeit not so noble and magnificent. In which respect, it may (perhaps) merit the lesse attention; but howsoever that fault shall be found in you, I meane to discharge mine owne duty.
Opinion hath made it famous for long time, that the Seacoast of Rhegium to Gaieta, is the onely delactable part of all Italy, wherein, somewhat neere to Salerno, is a shore looking upon the Sea, which the inhabitants there dwelling, doe call the coast of Malfy, full of small Townes, Gardens, Springs, and wealthy men, trading in as many kindes of Merchandizes, as any other people that I know. Among which Townes, there is one, named Ravello, wherein (as yet to this day there are rich people) there was (not long since) a very wealthy man, named Landolpho Ruffolo, who being not contented with his riches, but coveting to multiply them double and trebble, fell in danger, to loose both himselfe and wealth together.
This man (as other Merchants are wont to doe) after hee had considered on his affaires, bought him a very goodly Ship, lading it with divers sorts of Merchandizes, all belonging to himselfe onely, and making his voyage to the Isle of Cyprus. Where he found, over and beside the Merchandizes he had brought thither, many Ships more there arrived, and all laden with the same commodities, in regard whereof, it was needefull for him, not onely to make a good Mart of his goods; but also was further constrained (if hee meant to vent his commodities) to sell them away (almost) for nothing, endangering his utter destruction and overthrow. Whereupon, grieving exceedingly at so great a losse, not knowing what to doe, and seeing, that from very aboundant wealth, hee was likely to fall into as low poverty: he resolved to die, or to recompence his losses upon others, because he would not returne home poore, having departed thence so rich.
Meeting with a Merchant, that bought his great Ship of him; with the money made thereof, and also his other Merchandizes, hee purchased another, being a lighter vessell, apt and proper for the use of a Pirate, arming and furnishing it in ample manner, for roving and robbing upon the Seas. Thus hee began to make other mens goods his owne, especially from the Turkes he tooke much wealth, Fortune being alwayes therein so favourable to him, that hee could never compasse the like by trading. So that, within the space of one yeare, hee had robd and taken so many Gallies from the Turke; that he found himselfe well recovered, not onely of all his losses by Merchandize, but likewise his wealth was wholly redoubled. Finding his losses to be very liberally requited, and having now sufficient, it were folly to hazard a second fall; wherefore, conferring with his owne thoughts, and finding that he had enough, and needed not to covet after more: he fully concluded, now to returne home to his owne house againe, and live upon his goods thus gotten.
Continuing still in feare of the losses he had sustained by traffique, and minding never more to imploy his money that way, but to keep this light vessell, which had holpen him to all his wealth: he commanded his men to put forth their Oares, and shape,their course for his owne dwelling. Being aloft in the higher Seas, darke night over-taking them, and a mighty winde suddainly comming upon them: it not onely was contrary to their course, but held on with such impetuous violence; that the small vessell, being unable to endure it, made to land-ward speedily, and in expectation of a more friendly wind, entred a little port of the Sea, directing up into a small Island, and there safely sheltred it selfe. Into the same port which Landolpho had thus taken for his refuge, entred (soone after) two great Carrackes of Genewayes, lately come from Constantinople. When the men in them had espied the small Barke, and lockt up her passage from getting forth; understanding the Owners name, and that report had famed him to be very rich, they determined (as men evermore addicted naturally, to covet after money and spoile) to make it their owne as a prize at Sea.
Landing some store of their men, well armed with Crossebowes and other weapons, they tooke possession of such a place, where none durst issue forth of the small Barke, but endangered his life with their Darts and Arrowes. Entering aboord the Barke, and making it their owne by full possession, all the men they threw over-boord, without sparing any but Landolpho himselfe, whom they mounted into one of the Carrackes, leaving him nothing but a poore shirt of Maile on his backe, and having rifled the Barke of all her riches, sunke it into the bottome of the sea. The day following, the rough windes being calmed, the Carrackes set saile againe, having a prosperous passage all the day long; but upon the entrance of darke night, the windes blew more tempestuously then before, and sweld the Sea in such rude stormes, that the two Carracks were sundered each from other, and by violence of the tempest it came to passe, that the Carracke wherein lay poore miserable Landolpho (beneath the Isle of Cephalonia) ran against a rocke, and even as a glasse against a wall, so split the Carracke in peeces, the goods and merchandize floating on the Sea, Chests, Coffers, Beds, and such like other things, as often hapneth in such lamentable accidents.
Now, notwithstanding the nights obscurity, and impetuous violence of the billowes; such as could swimme, made shift to save their lives by swimming. Others caught hold on such things, as by Fortunes favour, floated neerest to them, among whom, distressed Landolpho, desirous to save his life, if possibly it might be, espied a Chest or Coffer before him, ordained (no doubt) to be the meanes of his safety from drowning. Now although the day before, he had wished for death infinite times, rather then to returne home in such wretched poverty; yet, seeing how other men strove for safety of their lives by any helpe, were it never so little, bee tooke advantage of this favour offred him, and the rather in a necessitie so urgent. Keeping fast upon the Coffer so well as he could, and being driven by the winds and waves, one while this way, and anon quite contrary, he made shift for himselfe till day appeared; when looking every way about him, seeing nothing but clouds, the seas and the Coffer, which one while shrunke from under him, and another while supported him, according as the windes and billowes carried it: all that day and night thus he floated up and downe, drinking more then willingly hee would, but almost hunger-starved thorow want of foode. The next morning, either by the appointment of heaven or power of the Windes, Landolpho who was (well-neere) become a Spundge, holding his armes strongly about the Chest, as we have seene some doe, who (dreading drowning) take hold on any the very smallest helpe; drew neere unto the shore of the Iland Corfu, where (by good fortune) a poore woman was scowring dishes with the salt water and sand, to make them (housewife like) neate and cleane.
When shee saw the Chest drawing neere her, and not discerning the shape of any man, shee grew fearefull, and retyring from it, cried out aloude. He had no power of speaking to her, neither did his sight doe him the smallest service; but even as the waves and windes pleased, the Chest was driven still neerer to the Land, and then the woman perceyved that it had the forme of a ofer, and looking more advisedly, beheld two armes extended over it, and afterward, she espied the face of a man, not being able to judge, whether he were alive, or no. Moved by charitable and womanly compassion, shee stept in among the billowes, and getting fast holde on the hayre of his head, drew both the Chest and him to the Land, and calling forth her Daughters to helpe her, with much adoe she unfolded his armes from the Chest, setting it up on her Daughters head, and then betweene them, Landolpho was led into the Towne, and there conveyed into a warme Stove, where quickly he recovered by her pains, his strength benummed with extreame cold.
Good wines and comfortable broathes shee cherished him withall, that his sences being indifferently restored, hee knew the place where hee was; but not in what manner he was brought thither, till the good woman shewed him the Cofer that had kept him floating upon the waves, and (next under God) had saved his life. The Chest seemed of such slender weight, that nothing of any value could be expected in it, either to recompence the womans great paines and kindnesse bestowne on him, or any matter of his owne benefit. Neverthelesse, the woman being absent, he opened the Chest, and found innumerable precious stones therein, some costly and curiously set in Gold, and others not fixed in any mettall. Having knowledge of their great worth and value (being a Merchant, and skil'd in such matters) he became much comforted, praysing God for this good successe, and such an admirable meanes of deliverance from danger.
Then considering with himselfe, that (in a short time) hee had beene twice well buffeted and beaten by Fortune, and fearing, least a third mishap might follow in like manner, hee consulted with his thoughts, how he might safest order the businesse, and bring so rich a booty (without perill) to his owne home. Wherefore, wrapping up the jewels in very unsightly coloures, that no suspition at all should be conceived of them, hee saide to the good woman, that the Chest would not doe him any further service; but if shee pleased to lende him a small sacke or bagge, shee might keepe the Cofer, for in her house it would divers way stead her. The woman gladly did as he desired, and Landolpho returning her infinite thankes, for the loving kindnesse shee had affoorded him, throwing the sacke on his necke, passed by a Barke to Brundusiam, and from thence to Tranium, where Merchants in the City bestowed good garments on him, he acquainting them with his disasterous fortunes, but not a word concerning his last good successe.
Being come home in safety to Ravello, he fell on his knees, and thanked God for all his mercies towards him. Then opening the sacke, and viewing the jewels at more leysure then formerly he had done, he found them to be of so great estimation, that selling them but at ordinary and reasonable rates, he was three times richer, then when hee departed first from his house. And having vented them all, he sent a great summe of money to the good woman at Corfu, that had rescued him out of the Sea, and saved his life in a danger so dreadfull. The like he did to Tranium, to the Merchants that had newly cloathed him; living richly upon the remainder, and never adventuring more to the Sea, but ended his dayes in wealth and honour.
The precious Stones and jewels found by Landolpho, maketh mee to remember (said Madam Fiammetta, who was next to deliver her discourse) a Tale, containing no lesse perils, then that reported by Madam Lauretta: but somewhat different from it, because the one happened in sundry yeeres, and this other had no longer time, then the compasse of one poore night, as instantly I will relate unto you.
As I have heard reported by many, there sometime lived in Perouse or Perugia, a young man, named Andrea de Piero, whose profession was to trade about Horses, in the nature of a Horse-courser, or Horsemaster, who hearing of a good Faire or Market (for his purpose) at Naples, did put five hundred Crownes of gold in his purse, and journeyed thither in the company of other Horse-coursers, arriving there on a Sunday in the evening. According to instructions given him by his Host, he went the next day into the Horse-market, where he saw very many Horses that he liked, cheapening their prices as he went up and downe, but could fall to no agreement; yet to manifest that he came purposely to buy, and not as a cheapener onely, oftentimes (like a shallow-brainde trader in the world) he shewed his purse of gold before all passengers, never respecting who, or what they were that observed his follie.
It came to passe, that a young Sicillian wench (very beautifull, but at commaund of whosoever would, and for small hire) pass then by, and (without his percieving) seeing such store of gold in his purse; presently she said to her selfe: why should not all those crownes be mine, when the foole that owes them, can keepe them no closer? And so she went on. With this young wanton there was (at the same time) an olde woman (as commonly such stuffe is alwayes so attended) seeming to be a Sicillian also, who so soone as shee saw Andrea, knew him, and leaving her youthfull commodity, ranne to him, and embraced him very kindly. Which when the younger Lasse perceived, without proceeding any further, she stayed to see what would ensue thereon. Andrea conferring with the olde Bawde, and knowing her (but not for any such creature) declared himselfe very affable to her; she making him promise, that shee would come and drinke with him at his lodging. So breaking off further speeches for that time, shee returned to her young Cammerado; and Andrea went about buying his horses, still cheapning good store, but did not buy any all that morning.
The Punke that had taken notice of Andreas purse, upon the olde womans comming backe to her (having formerly studied, how shee might get all the gold, or the greater part thereof) cunningly questioned with her, what the man was, whence hee came, and the occasion of his businesse there? wherein she fully informed her particularly, and in as ample manner as himselfe could have done: That shee had long time dwelt in Sicily with his Father, and afterward at Perouse; recounting also, at what time she came thence, and the cause which now had drawne him to Naples. The witty young housewife, being thorowly instructed, concerning the Parents and kindred of Andrea, their names, quality, and all other circumstances thereto leading; began to frame the foundation of her purpose thereupon, setting her resolution downe constantly, that the purse and gold was (already) more than halfe her owne.
Being come home to her owne house, away shee sent the olde Pandresse about other businesse, which might hold her time long enough of employment, and hinder her returning to Andrea according to promise, purposing, not to trust her in this serious piece of service. Calling a young crafty Girle to her, whom she had well tutoured in the like ambassages, when evening drew on, she sent her to Andreas lodging, where (by good fortune) she found him sitting alone at the doore, and demanding of him, if he knew an honest Gentleman lodging there, whose name was Signior Andrea de Piero; he made her answere, that himselfe was the man. Then taking him aside, she said. Sir, there is a worthy Gentlewoman of this Citie, that would gladly speake with you, if you pleased to vouchsafe her so much favour.
Andrea, hearing such a kinde of salutation, and from a Gentlewoman, named of worth; began to grow proud in his owne imaginations, and to make no meane estimation of himselfe: As (undoubtedly) that he was an hansome proper man, and of such cariage and perfections, as had attracted the amorous eye of this Gentlewoman, and induced her to like and love him beyond all other, Naples not containing a man of better merit. Whereupon he answered the Mayde, that he was ready to attend her Mistresse, desiring to know, when it should be, and where the Gentlewoman would speake with him? So soone as you please Sir, replied the Damosell, for she tarrieth your comming in her owne house.
Instantly Andrea (without leaving any direction of his departure in his lodging, or when he intended to returne againe) said to the Girle: Goe before, and I will follow. This little Chamber-commodity, conducted him to her Mistresses dwelling, which was in a streete named Malpertuis, a title manifesting sufficiently the streetes honesty: but hee, having no such knowledge thereof, neither suspecting any harme at all, but that he went to a most honest house, and to a Gentlewoman of good respect; entred boldly: the Mayde going in before, and guiding him up a faire payre of stayres, which he having more then halfe ascended, the cunning young Queane gave a call to her Mistresse, saying; Signior Andrea is come already, whereupon, she appeared at the stayres-head, as if she had stayed there purposely to entertaine him. She was young, very beautifull, comely of person, and rich in adornements, which Andrea well observing, and seeing her descend two or three steps, with open armes to embrace him, catching fast hold about his neck; he stood as a man confounded with admiration, and she contained a cunning kinde of silence, even as if she were unable to utter one word, seeming hindered by extremity of joy at his presence, and to make him effectually admire her extraordinary kindnesse, having teares plenteously at commaund, intermixed with sighes and broken speeches, at last, thus she spake.
Signior Andrea, you are the most welcome friend to me in the world; sealing this salutation with infinite sweet kisses and embraces: whereat (in wonderfull amazement) he being strangely transported, replied; Madame, you honour me beyond all compasse of merit. Then, taking him by the hand, shee guided him thorough a goodly Hall, into her owne Chamber, which was delicately embalmed with Roses, Orenge flowers, and all other pleasing smelles, and a costly bed in the middest, curtained round about, verie artificiall Pictures beautifying the walles, with many other embellishments, such as those Countries are liberally stored withall. He being meerely a novice in these kinds of wanton carriages of the World, and free from any base or degenerate conceite; firmely perswaded himselfe, that (questionlesse) she was a Lady of no meane esteeme, and he more then happy, to be thus respected and honored by her. They both being seated on a curious Chest at the beds feete, teares cunningly trickling downe her Cheekes, and sighes intermedled with inward sobbings, breathed foorth in sad, but verie seemely manner, thus shee beganne.
I am sure Andrea, that you greatly marvell at me, in gracing you with this solemne and kinde entertainment, and why I should so melt my selfe in sighes and teares, at a man that hath no knowledge of mee, or perhaps, sildome or never heard any speeches of mee: but you shall instantly receive from mee matter to augment your greater marvaile, meeting heere with your owne Sister, beyond all hope or expectation in eyther of us both. But seeing that Heaven hath beene so gracious to me, to let mee see one of my Brethren before I dye (though gladly I would have seene them all) which is some addition of comfort to me, and that which (happily) thou hast never heard before, in plaine and truest manner, I will reveale unto thee.
Piero, my Father and thine, dwelt long time (as thou canst not choose but to have understood) in Palermo; where, through the bounty, and other gracious good parts remaining in him, he was much renowned, and to this day, is no doubt remembred, by many of his loving Friends and Wellwillers. Among them that most intimately affected Piero, my mother (who was Gentlewoman, and at that time a widow) did deerest of all other love him; so that: forgetting the feare of her Father, Brethren, yea, and her owne honour, they became so privately acquainted, that I was begotten, and am heere now such as thou seest me.
Afterward, occasions so befalling our Father, to abandon Palermo, and returne to Perouse, he left my mother and me his little daughter, never after (for ought that I could learne) once remembring either her or me: so that (if he had not beene my Father) I could have much condemned him, in regard of his ingratitude to my mother, and love which hee ought to have shewne me as his childe, being borne of no Chamber-maide, neyther of a Citty sinner; albeit I must needes say, that she was blame-worthy, without any further knowledge of him (rioved onely thereto by most loyal affection) to commit both her selfe, and all the wealth shee had, into his hands: but things ill done, and so long time since, are more easily controulled, then amended.
Being left so young at Palermo, and growing (well neere) to the stature as now you see me; my Mother (being wealthy) gave me in marriage to one of the Gergentes Family, a Gentleman, and of great revennues, who in his love to me and my mother, went and dwelt at Palermo: where falling into the Guelphes Faction, and making one in the enterprize with Charles our King; it came to passe, that they were discovered to Fredericke King of Arragon, before their intent could be put in execution: Whereupon, we were enforced to flye from Sicily, even when my hope stoode fairely, to have beene the greatest Lady in all the Island. Packing up then such few things as wee could take with us, (few I may well call them, in regard of our wealthy possessions, both in Pallaces, Houses, and Lands, all which we were constrained to forgo:) we made our recourse to this Citty, where we found King Charles so benigne and gracious to us, that recompencing the greater part of our losses, he bestowed Lands and houses on us here, beside a continuall large pension to my husband your brother in Law, as heereafter himselfe shall better acquaint you withal. Thus came I hither, and thus remaine here, where I am able to welcome my brother Andrea, thankes more to Fortune, then any friendlinesse in him. With which words she embraced and kissed him many times, sighing and weeping as she did before.
Andrea hearing this Fable so artificially delivered, composed from point to point with such likely protestations, without faltring or failing in any one words utterance; and remembring perfectly for truth, that his Father had formerly dwelt at Palermo; knowing also (by some sensible feeling in himselfe) the custome of young people, who are easily conquered by affection in their youthfull heate, seeing beside the tears, trembling speeches, and earnest embracings of this cunning commodity; he tooke all to be true by her thus spoken, and upon her silence, thus replyed.
Lady, let it not seeme strange to you, that your words have raysed marvell in me, because (indeed) I had no knowledge of you, even no more then as if I had never seene you: never also having heard my father speak either of you or your mother (for some considerations best known unto himselfe:) or if at any time he used such language, either my youth then, or defective memory since, hath utterly lost it. But truely, it is no little joy and comfort to me, to finde a sister here, where I had no such hope or expectation, and where also myselfe am a meere stranger. For to speake my minde freely of you, and the perfections gracefully appearing in you I know not any man of how great repute or qualitie soever, but you may well beseeme his acceptance, much rather then mine, that am but a mean Merchant. But faire Sister, I desire to be resolved in one thing, to wit; by what means you had understanding of my being in this City? whereto readily she returned him this answer.
Brother, a poore Woman of this City, whom I employ sometimes houshold occasions, came to mee this morning, and (having seene you) tolde me, that shee dwelt a long while with our Father, both at Palermo and Perouse. And because I held it much better beseeming my condition, to have you visite me in mine owne dwelling, then I to come see you at a common Inne, I made the bolder to send for you hither. After which words, in very orderly manner, she enquired of his chiefest kindred and friends, calling them readily by their proper names, according to her former instructions. Whereto Andrea still made her answere, confirming thereby his beliefe of her the more strongly, and crediting whatsoever she saide, farre better then before.
Their conference having long time continued, and the heate of the day being somewhat extraordinary, she called for Greeke wine, and banquetting stuffe, drinking to Andrea; and he pledging her very contentedly. After which, he would have returned to his lodging, because it drew neere supper time; which by no meanes shee would permit, but seeming more then halfe displeased, shee saide. Now I plainely perceive brother, how little account you make of me, considering, you are with your owne Sister, who (you say) you never saw before, and in her owne House, whether you should alwayes resort when you come to this City; and would you now refuse her, to goe and sup at a common Inne? Beleeve me Brother, you shall sup with me, for although my Husband is now from home, to my no little discontentment: yet you shall find Brother, that his wife, can bid you welcome, and make you good cheere beside.
Now was Andrea so confounded this extremity of courtesie, that he knew not what to say, but onely thus replied. I love you as a Sister ought to be loved, and accept of your exceeding kindnesse: but if I returne not to my lodging, I shall wrong mine Host and his guests too much, because they will not sup untill I come. For that (quoth shee) we have a present remedy, one of my servants shall goe and give warning, whereby they shall not tarry your comming. Albeit, you might doe me a great kindnesse, to send for your friends to sup with us here, where I assure ye, they shall finde that your Sister (for your sake) will bid them welcome, and after supper, you may all walke together to your Inne. Andrea answered, that he had no such friends there, as should be so burthenous to her: but seeing she urged him so farre, he would stay to sup with her, and referred himselfe solely to her disposition.
Ceremonious shew was made, of sending a servant to the Inne, for not expecting Andreas presence at Supper, though no such matter was performed; but, after divers other discoursings, the table being covered, and variety of costly viands placed thereon, downe they sate to feeding, with plenty of curious Wines liberally walking about, so that it was darke night before they arose from the table. Andrea then offring to take his leave, she would (by no meanes) suffer it, but tolde him, that Naples was a Citie of such strict Lawes and Ordinances, as admitted no night-walkers, although they were Natives, much lesse strangers, but punnished them with great severity. And therefore, as she had formerly sent word to his Inne, that they should not expect his comming to supper, the like had she done concerning his bed, intending to give her Brother Andrea one nights lodging, which as easily she could affoord him, as shee had done a Supper. All which this new-caught Woodcocke verily crediting, and that he was in company of his owne Sister Fiordeliza (for so did she cunningly stile her selfe, and in which beleefe he was meerely deluded) he accepted the more gladly her gentle offer, and concluded to stay there all that night.
After supper, their conference lasted very long, purposely dilated out in length, that a great part of the night might therein be wasted: when, leaving Andrea to his Chamber, and a Lad to attend, that he should lacke nothing; she with her women went to their lodgings, and thus our Brother and supposed Sister were parted. The season then being somewhat hot and soultry, Andrea put off his hose and doublet, and being in his shirt alone, layed them underneath the beds boulster, as seeming carefull of his money. But finding a provocation to the house of Office, he demanded of the Lad, where hee might find it; who shewed him a little doore in a corner of the Chamber, appointing him to enter there. Safely enough he went in, but chanced to tread upon a board, which was fastened at neither, ende to the joynts whereon it lay, being a pit-fall made of purpose, to entrap any such coxcombe, as would be trained to so base a place of lodging, so that both he and the board fell downe together into the draught; yet such being his good fortune, to receive no harme in the fall (although it was of extraordinary height) onely the filth of the place, (it being over full) had fowly myred him.
Now for your better understanding the quality of the place, and what ensued thereupon, it is not unnecessary to describe it, according to a common use, observed in those parts. There was a narrow passage or entrie, as often we see reserved betweene two houses, for eithers benefit to such a needfull place; and boards loosely lay upon the joynts, which such as were acquainted withall, could easily avoide any perille in passing to or from the stoole.
But our so newly created Brother, not dreaming to find a Queane to his Sister, receiving so foule a fall into the vault, and knowing not how to helpe himselfe, being sorrowfull beyond measure; cryed out to the boy for light and aide, who intended not to give him any. For the crafty wag, (a meete attendant for so honest a Mistresse) no sooner heard him to be fallen, but presently he ran to enforme her thereof, and shee as speedily returned to the Chamber, where finding his cloathes under the beds head, shee needed no instruction for search of his pockets. But having found the gold, which Andrea indiscreetely carried alwayes about him, as thinking it could no where else be so safe: This was all shee aymed at, and for which shee had ensnared him, faigning her selfe to be of Palermo, and Daughter to Piero of Perouse, so that not regarding him any longer, but making fast the house of Office doore, there she left him in that miserable taking.
Poore Andrea perceiving, that his calles could get no answere from the Lad; cryed out louder, but all to no purpose: when seeing into his owne simplicity, and understanding his error, though somewhat too late, hee made such meanes constrainedly, that he got over a wall, which severed that foule sinke from the Worlds eye; and being in the open streete, went to the doore of the House, which then he knew too well to his cost, making loud exclaimes with rapping and knocking, but all as fruitelesse as before. Sorrowing exceedingly, and manifestly beholding his misfortune; Alas (quoth he) how soone have I lost a Sister, and five hundred Crownes besides? With many other words, loud calles, and beatings uppon the doore without intermission, the neighbours finding themselves disturbed, and unable to endure any such ceaselesse vexation, rose from their beddes, and called to him, desiring him to be gone, and let them rest. A Maide also of the same house, looking forth at the window, and seeming as newly raised from sleepe, called to him, saying; What noyse is that beneath? Why Virgin (answered Andrea) know you not me? I am Andrea de Piero, Brother to your Mistresse Fiordeliza. Thou art a drunken knave replyed the Maide, more full of drinke then wit: goe sleepe, goe sleepe, and come againe to morrow: for I know no Andrea de Piero, neither hath my Mistresse any such Brother. Get thee gone go ie good man, and suffer us to sleepe I prythee. How now (quoth Andrea) doest thou not understand what I say? Thou knowest that I supt with thy Mistresse this night; but if our Sicilian kindred be so soone forgot, I prythee give mee my Cloathes which I left in my Chamber, and then verie gladly will I get mee gone. Hereat the Maide laughing out aloude, saide; Surely the man is mad, or walketh the streetes in a dreame: and so clasping fast the Window, away she went and left him. Now could Andrea assure himselfe, that his Golde and cloathes were past recovery, which mooving him to the mor impatience, his former intercessions became converted into furie, and what hee could not compasse by faire intreats, he intended to winne by outrage and violence: so that taking up a great stone in his hand, hee layed upon the doore verie powerfull strokes. The neighbors hearing this mollestation still, admitting them not the least respite of rest, reputed him for a troublesome fellow, and that he used those counterfet words, onely to disturbe the Mistresse of the house, and all that dwelled neere about her; looking againe out at their windowes, they altogether beganne to rate and reprove him, even like so many bawling Curres, barking at a strange dog passing through the street. This is shamefull villany (quoth one) and not to be suffered, that honest women should thus be molested in their houses, with foolish idle words, and at such an unseasonable time of the night. For Gods sake (good man) be gone, and let us sleepe; if thou have any thing to say to the Gentlewoman of the house, come tomorrow in the daytime, and no doubt but she will make thee sufficient answer.
Andrea, being some what pacified with these speeches, a shagge-hayr'd swash-buckler, a grim visagde Ruffian (as sildome bawdy houses are without such swaggering Champions) not seene or heard by Andrea, all the while of his being in the house; rapping out two or three terrible Oathes, opening a Casement, and with a stearne dreadfull voyce, demanded, who durst keepe that noyse beneath? Andrea fearefully looking up, and (by a little glimmering of the Moone) seeing such a rough fellow, with a blacke beard, strowting like the quilles of a Porcupine, and patches on his face, for hurts received in no honest quarrels, yawning also and stretching, as angry to have his sleepe disturbed: trembling and quaking, answered; I am the Gentlewomans brother of the house. The Ruffian interrupting him, and speaking more fiercely then before; sealing his words with horrible Oathes, said. Sirra, Rascall, I know not of whence, or what thou art; but if I come downe to thee, I will so bumbast thy prating Coxecombe, as thou wast never so beaten in all thy life, like a drunken slave and beast as thou art, that all this night wilt not let us sleepe. And so hee clapt to the window againe.
The Neighbours well acquainted with this Ruffians rude conditions, speaking in gentle manner to Andrea, said. Shift for thy selfe (good man) in time, and tarrie not for his comming downe to thee, except thou art weary of thy life: Be gone therefore, and say thou hast a friendly warning. These words dismaying Andrea, but much more the sterne oathes and ougly sight of the Ruffian, incited also by the Neighbours counsell, whom he imagined to advise him in charitable manner: it caused him to depart thence, taking the way home-ward to his Inne, in no mean affliction and torment of minde, for the monstrous abuse offered him, and losse of his money. Well he remembred the passages, whereby the day before the young Gyrle had guided him, but the loathsome smell about him, was so extreamely to himselfe, that desiring to wash him at the Sea side, he strayed too farre wide on the contrary hand, wandring up the street called Ruga Gatellana.
Proceeding on still, even to the highest part of the Citie, hee espyed a Lanthorne and light, as also a man carrying it, and another man with him in company, both of them comming towards him. Now, because he suspected them two of the watch, or some persons that would apprehend him., he stept aside to shunne them, and entred into an olde house hard by at hand. The other mens intention was to the very same place; and going in, without any knowledge of Andreaes beeing there, one of them layde downe divers instruments of Iron which he had brought thither on his backe, and had much talke with his fellow concerning those Engines. At last one of them saide; I smell the most abhominable stinke that ever I felt in all my life. So, lifting up the Lanthorn, he espied poore pittifull Andrea, closely couched behinde the wall. Which sight somewhat affrighting him, he yet boldly demaunded, what and who he was? Whereto Andrea answered nothing, but lay still and held his peace. Neerer they drew towards him with their light, demanding how hee came thither, and in that filthy manner.
Constraint having now no other evasion, but that (of necessitie) all must out: hee related to them the whole adventure, in the same sort as it had befalne him. They greatly pittying his misfortune, one of them said to the other: Questionlesse, this villanie was done in the house of Scarabone Buttafucco. And then turning to Andrea, proceeded thus. In good faith poore man, albeit thou hast lost thy money, yet art thou much beholding to Fortune, for falling (though in a foule place) yet in a succesfull manner, and entring no more backe into the house. For beleeve mee friend, if thou haddest not falne, but quietly gone to sleepe in the house, that sleepe had beene thy last in this world, and with thy money, thou hadst lost thy life likewise. But teares and lamentations are now helpelesse, because as easily mayest thou plucke the Starres from the Firmament, as get againe the least doyt of thy losse. And for that shag-haird Slave in the house, he will be thy deathsman, if hee but understand that thou makest any enquirie after thy money. When he had thus admonished him, he began also in this manner to comfort him. Honest fellow,- we cannot but pitty thy present condition: wherfore if thou wilt frendly associate us, in a businesse which we are instantly going to effect; thy losse hath not bene so great, but on our words we will warrant thee, that thine immediate gaine shall farre exceede it. What will not a man (in desperate extremity) both well like and allow of, especially when it carryeth apparance of present comfort. So fared it with Andrea, hee perswaded himselfe, worse then had already happened, could not befall him; and therefore he would gladly adventure with them.
The selfe same day preceding this disastrous night to Andrea, in the cheefe Church of the Cittie, had beene buried the Archbishop of Naples named Signior Phillippo Minutulo, in his richest pontificall Robes and Ornaments, and a Ruby on his finger valued to be worth five hundred duckets of gold: this dead body they purposed to rob and rifle, acquainting Andrea with their whole intent, whose necessitie (coupled with a covetous desire) made him more forward then well advised, to joyne with them in this sacriligious enterprize. On they went towards the great Church, Andreaes unsavourie perfume much displeasing them, whereupon the one said to his fellow: Can we devise no ease for this foule and noysome inconveniences? the very smell of him will be a meanes to betray us. There is a Well-pit hard by, answered the other, with a pulley and bucket descending downe into it, and there we may wash him from this filthinesse. To the Well-pit they came, where they found the rope and pulley hanging readie, but the bucket for safety was taken away; whereon they concluded, to fasten the rope about him, and so let him downe into the Well-pit, and when he had washed himselfe, hee should wagge the rope, and then they would draw him up againe, which accordingly they forthwith performed.
Now it came to passe, that while he was thus washing himselfe in the Well-pit, the Watch of the Citie walking the round, and finding it to bee a very hote and sweltring night, they grew dry and thirsty, and therefore went to the Well to drinke. The other two men, perceiving the Watch so neere upon them, left Andrea in the pit to shift for himselfe, running away to shelter themselves. Their flight was not discovered by the Watch, but they comming to the Wellpit, Andrea remained still in the bottome, and having cleansed himselfe so well as hee could, sate wagging the rope, expecting when hee should be haled up. This dumbe signe the Watch discerned not, but sitting downe by the Welles side, they layde downe their Billes and other weapons, tugging to draw up the rope, thinking the Bucket was fastened thereto, and full of water. Andrea being haled up to the Pits brim, left holding the rope any longer, catching fast hold with his hands for his better safety; and the Watch at the sight hereof being greatly agrighted, as thinking that they had dragd up a Spirit; not daring to speake one word, ran away with all the hast they could make.
Andrea hereat was not a little amazed, so that if he had not taken very good hold on the brim: he might have falne to the bottome, and doubtlesse there his life had perished. Being come forth of the Well, and treading on Billes and Halbards, which he well knew that his companions had not brought thither with them; his mervaile so much the more encreased, ignorance and feare still seizing him, with silent bemoaning his many misfortunes, away thence he wandred, but hee wist not whither. As he went on, he met his two fellowes, who purposely returned to drag him out of the Well, and seeing their intent already performed, desired to know who had done it: wherein Andrea could not resolve them, rehearsing what hee could, and what weapons hee found lying about the Well. Whereat they smiled, as knowing, that the Watch had haled him up, for feare of whom they left him, and so declared to him the reason of their returne.
Leaving off all further talke, because now it was about midnight, they went to the great Church, where finding their enterance to be easie: they approached neere the Tombe, which was very great, being tall of Marble, and the cover-stone weighty, yet with crowes of yron and other helps, they raised it so high, that a man might without perill passe into it. Now began they to question one another, which of the three should enter into the Tombe. Not I, said the first; so said the second: No nor I, answered Andrea. Which when the other two heard, they caught fast hold of him, saying. Wilt not thou goe into the Tombe? Be advised what thou sayest, for, if thou wilt not goe in: we will so beat thee with one of these yron crowes, that thou shalt never goe out of this Church alive.
Thus poore Andrea is still made a property, and Fortune (this fatall night) will have no other foole but he, as delighting in his hourly disasters. Feare of their fury makes him obedient, into the grave he goes, and being within, thus consults with himselfe. These cunning companions suppose me to be simple, and make me enter the Tombe, having an absolute intention to deceive me. For, when I have given them all the riches that I finde here, and am ready to come forth for mine equall portion: away will they runne for their owne safety, and leaving me heere, not onely shall I loose my right among them, but must remaine to what danger may follow after. Having thus meditated, he resolved to make sure of his owne share first, and remembring the rich Ring, whereof they had tolde him: forthwith hee tooke it from the Archbishops finger, finding it indifferently fitte for his owne. Afterward, hee tooke the Crosse, Miter, rich garments, Gloves and all, leaving him nothing but his shirt, giving them all these severall parcels, protesting that there was nothing else. Still they pressed upon him, affirming that there was a Ring beside, urging him to search diligently for it; yet still he answered, that he could not finde it, and for their longer tarrying with him, seemed as if he serched very carefully, but all appeared to no purpose.
The other two fellowes, as cunning in craft as the third could be, still willed him to search, and watching their aptest opportunity: tooke away the proppes that supported the Tombe-stone, and running thence with their got booty, left poore Andrea mewed up in the grave. Which when he perceived, and saw this miserie to exceede all the rest, it is farre easier for you to guesse at his greefe, then I am any way, able to expresse it. His head, shoulders, yea all his utmost strength he employeth, to remove that over-heavy hinderer of his libertie: but all his labour beeing spent in vaine, sorrow threw him in a swoond upon the Byshoppes dead body, where if both of them might at that instant have bin observed, the Arch-byshops dead bodie, and Andrea in greefe dying, very hardly had bene distinguished. But his senses regaining their former offices, among his silent complaints, consideration presented him with choyse of these two unavoydable extremities: Dye starving must he in the Tombe with putrifaction of the dead bodie; or if any man came to open the Grave, then must he be apprehended as a sacrilegious Theefe, and so be hanged, according to the Lawes in that case provided.
As hee continued in these strange afflictions of minde, sodainely hee heard a noise in the Church of divers men, who (as he imagined) came about the like businesse, as hee and his fellowes had undertaken before; wherein he was not a jot deceived, albeit his feare the more augmented. Having opened the Tombe, and supported the stone, they varied also among themselves for entrance, and an indiffrent while contended about it. At length, a Priest being one in the company, boldly said. Why how now you white-liver'd Rascals? What are you affraid of? Do you thinke he will eate you? Dead men cannot bite, and therefore I my selfe will go in. Having thus spoken, he prepared his entrance to the tomb in such order, that he thrust in his feete before, for his easier descending downe into it.
Andrea sitting upright in the Tombe, and desiring to make use of this happy opportunity, caught the Priest fast by one of his legges, making shew as if he meant to dragge him downe. Which when the Priest felt, he cryed out aloud, getting out with all the haste he could make, and all his companions, being well-neere frighted out of their wits, ranne away amaine, as if they had bene followed by a thousand divels. Andrea little dreaming on such fortunate successe, made meanes to get out of the grave, and afterward forth of the Church, at the very same place where he entred.
Now began day-light to appeare, when he (having the rich Ring on his finger) wandred on hee knew not whether: till comming to the Sea side, he found the way directing to his Inne, where al his company were with his Host, who had bene verie carefull for him.
Having related his manifold mischances, his Hoste friendly advised him with speede to get him out of Naples. As instantly he did, returning home to Perouse, having adventured his five hundred Crownes on a Ring, wherewith hee purposed to have bought Horses, according to the intent of his journey thither.
The Ladies and Gentlemen also, having smiled sufficiently at the severall accidents which did befall the poore Traveller Andrea, reported at large by Madam Fiammetta, the Lady Aimillia seeing her tale to be fully concluded, began (by commandement of the Queene) to speak in this manner.
The diversitie of changes and alterations in Fortune as they are great, so must they needs be greevous; and as often as we take occasion to talke of them, so often do they awake and quicken our understandings, avouching, that it is no easie matter to depend upon her flatteries. And I am of opinion, that to heare them recounted, ought not any way to offend us, be it of men wretched, or fortunate; because, as they instruct the one with good advice, so they animate the other with comfort. And therefore, although great occasions have beene already related, yet I purpose to tell a Tale, no lesse true then lamentable; which albeit it sorted to a successefull ending, yet notwithstanding, such and so many were the bitter thwartings, as hardly can I beleeve, that ever any sorrow was more joyfully sweetned.
You must understand then (most gracious Ladies) that after the death of Fredericke the second Emperour, one named Manfred, was crowned King of Sicily, about whom, lived in great account and authority, a Neapolitane Gentleman, called Henriet Capece, who had to Wife a beautifull Gentlewoman, and a Neapolitane also, named Madam Beritola Caracalla. This Henriet held the government of the Kingdome of Sicily, and understanding that King Charles the first, had wonne the battle at Beneventum, and slaine King Manfred, the whole Kingdome revolting also to his devotion, and little trust to be reposed in the Sicillians, or he willing to subject himselfe to his Lordes enemie; provided for his secret flight from thence. But this being discovered to the Sicillians, he and many more, who had beene loyall servants to King Manfred, were suddenly taken and imprisoned by King Charles, and the sole possession of the Iland confirmed to him.
Madam Beritola not knowing (in so sudden and strange an alteration of State affaires) what was become of her Husband, fearing also greatly before, those inconveniences which afterward followed; being overcome with many passionate considerations, having left and forsaken all her goods, going aboord a small Barke with a Sonne of hers, aged about some eight yeeres, named Geoffrey, and growne great with child with another, she fled thence to Lapary, where she was brought to bed of another Sonne, whom she named (answerable both to his and her hard fortune,) The poore expelled.
Having provided her selfe of a Nurse, they altogether went aboard againe, setting sayle for Naples to visit her Parents; but it chanced quite contrary to her expectation, because by stormie windes and weather, the vessell being bound for Naples, was hurried to the Ile of Ponzo, where entring into a small Port of the Sea, they concluded to make their aboade, till a time more furtherous should favour their voyage.
As the rest, so did Madam Beritola goe on shore in the Iland, where having found a separate and solitary place, fit for her silent and sad meditations, secretly by her selfe, shee sorrowed for the absence of her husband. Resorting daily to this her sad exercise, and continuing there her complaints, unseene by any of the Marriners, or whosoever else: there arrived suddenly a Galley of Pyrates, who seazing on the small Barke, carried it and all the rest in it away with them. When Beritola had finished het wofull complaints, as daily shee was accustomed to doe, shee returned backe to her children againe; but find no person there remayning, whereat she wondered not a little: immediately (suspecting what had happened indeede) she lent her lookes on the Sea, and saw the Galley, which as yet had not gone farre, drawing the smaller vessell after her. Hereby plainly she perceyved, that now she had lost her children, as formerly shee had done her husband; being left there poore, forsaken, and miserable, not knowing when, where, or how to finde any of them againe; and calling for her Husband and Children, shee fell downe in a swound uppon the shore.
Now was not any body neere, with coole water or any other remedy to helpe the recovery of her lost powers; wherefore her spirits might the more freely wander at their owne pleasure: but after they were returned backe againe, and had won their wonted offices in her body, drowned in teares, and wringing her hands, she did nothing but call for her children and husband, straying all about in hope to finde them, seeking in caves, dens, and every where else, that presented the verie least glimpse of comfort. But when she saw all her paines sort to no purpose, and darke night drawing swiftly on, hope and dismay raising infinite perturbations, made her yet to be somewhat respective of her selfe, and therefore departing from the sea-shore, she returned to the solitary place, where she used to sigh and mourne alone by her selfe.
The night being over-past with infinite feares and afrights, and bright day saluting the world againe, with the expence of nine houres and more, she fell to her former fruitlesse travailes. Being somewhat sharply bitten with hunger, because the former day and night shee had not tasted any foode: shee made therefore a benefit of necessity, and fed on the greene hearbes so well as she could, not without any piercing afflictions, what should become of her in this extraordinary misery. As shee walked in these pensive meditations, she saw a Goate enter into a Cave, and (within a while after) come forth againe, wandring along thorow the woods. Whereupon she stayed, and entred where she saw the beast issue foorth, where she found two young Kids, yeaned (as it seemed) the selfesame day, which sight was very pleasing to her, and nothing in that distresse could more content her.
As yet, she had milke freshly running in both her brests, by reason of her so late delivery in child bed; wherefore shee lay downe unto the two yong Kids, and taking them tenderly in her armes, suffered each of them to sucke a teate, whereof they made not any refusall, but tooke them as lovingly as their dammes, and from that time forward, they made no distinguishing betweene their damme and her. Thus this unfortunate Lady, having found some company in this solitary desart, fed on herbes and roots, drinking faire running water, and weeping silently to her selfe, so often as she remembred her husband, children, and former dayes past in much better manner. Heere she resolved now to live and dye, being at last deprived both of the damme and yonger Kids also, by theyr wandering further into the neere adjoyning Woods, according to their naturall inclinations; whereby the poore distressed Ladie became more savage and wilde in her daily conditions, then otherwise shee would have bene.
After many monthes were over-passed, at the very same place where she tooke landing; by chance, there arrived another small vessell of certaine Pisans, which remained there divers daies. In this Barke was a Gentleman, named Conrado de Marchesi Malespini, with his holy and vertuous wife, who were returned backe from a Pilgrimage, having visited all the sanctified places that then were in the kingdome of Apulia, and now were bound homeward to their owne abiding. This Gentleman, for the expelling of melancholly perturbations, one especiall day amongst other, with his wife, servants, and wainting hounds, wandred up into the Iland not far from the place of Madam Beritolaes desert dwelling. The hounds questing after game, at last happened on the two Kids where they were feeding, and (by this time) had attained to indifferent growth; and finding themselves thus pursued by the hounds, fled to no other part of the wood, then to the cave where Beritola remained, and seeming as if they sought to be rescued only by her, she sodainly caught up a staffe, and forced the hounds thence to flight.
By this time, Conrado and his wife, who had followed closely after the hounds, was come thither, and seeing what had hapned, looking on the Lady, who was become blacke, swarthy, meager, and hairy, they wondered not a little at her, and she a great deale more at them. When (uppon her request) Conrado had checkt backe his hounds, they prevailed so much by earnest intreaties, to know what she was, and the reason of her living there; that she intirely related her quality, unfortunate accidents, and strange determination for living there. Which when the Gentleman had heard, who very well knew her husband, compassion forced teares from his eyes, and earnestly he laboured by kinde perswasions, to alter so cruell a deliberation; making an honourable offer, for conducting her home to his owne dwelling, where shee should remaine with him in noble respect, as if she were his owne sister, without parting from him, till Fortune should smile as fairely on her, as ever she had done before.
When these gentle offers could not prevaile with her, the Gentleman left his wife in her company, saying, that he would go fetch some foode for her; and because her garments were all rent and torne, hee would bring her other of his wives, not doubting but to winne her thence with them. His wife abode there with Beritola, verie much bemoaning her great disasters: and when both viands and garments were brought, by extremitie of intercession, they caused her to put them on, and also to feede with them, albeit shee protested, that shee would not part thence into any place, where any knowledge should be taken of her. In the end, they perswaded her to go w-th them into Lunigiana, carrying also with her the two yong Goats and their damme, which were then in the cave altogether, prettily playing before Beritola, to the great admiration of Conrado and his wife, as also the servants attending on them.
When the windes and weather grew favourable for them, Madame Beritola went aboord with Conrado and his Wife, being followed by the two young Goates and their Damme; and because her name should bee knowne to none but Conrado, and his wife onely, shee would be stiled no otherwise but the Goatherdesse. Merrily, yet gently blew the gale, which brought them to enter the River of Maira, where going on shore, and into their owne Castle, Beritola kept company with the wife of Conrado, but in a mourning habite; and a waiting Gentlewoman of theirs, honest, humble, and very dutifull, the Goates alwayes familiarly keeping them company.
Returne wee now to the Pyrates, which at Ponzo seized on the small Barke wherein Madame Beritola was brought thither, and carried thence away, without any sight or knowledge of her. With such other spoyles as they had taken, they shaped their course for Geneway, and there (by consent of the Patrones of the Galley) made a division of their booties. It came to passe, that (among other things) the Nurse that attended on Beritola, and the two Children with her, fell to the share of one Messer Gastarino d'Oria, who sent them together to his owne House, there to be employed in service as Servants. The Nurse weeping beyond measure for the losse of her Ladie, and bemoaning her owne miserable Fortune, whereinto shee was now fallen with the two young Laddes; after long lamenting, which shee found utterly fruitlesse and to none effect, though she was used as a servant with them, and being but a very poore woman, yet was shee wise and discreetly advised. Wherefore, comforting both her selfe and them so well as she could, and considering the depth of their disaster, shee conceited thus, that if the Children should be knowne, it might redound to their greater danger, and shee be no way advantaged thereby.
Hereupon, hoping that Fortune (earely or late) would alter her stearne malice, and that they might (if they lived) regaine once more their former condition, shee would not disclose them to any one whatsoever, till shee should see the time aptly disposed for it. Being thus determined, to all such as questioned her concerning them, she answered that they were her owne Children, naming the eldest not Geoffrey, but Jehannot de Procida. As for the yongest, shee cared not greatly for changing his name, and therefore wisely informed Geoffrey, upon what reason shee had altered his name, and what danger he might fall into, if he should otherwise be discovered; being not satisfied with thus telling him once, but remembring him thereof verie often, which the gentle youth (being so well instructed by the wise and carefull Nurse) did very warily observe.
The two young Laddes, verie poorely garmented, but much worse hosed and shodde, continued thus in the house of Gasparino, where both they and the Nurse were long time employed about verie base and drudging Offices, which yet they endured with admirable patience. But Jehannot, aged already about sixteene yeeres, having a loftier spirit, then belonged to a slavish servant, despising the basenesse of his servile condition; departed from the drudgery of Messer Gasparino, and going aboord the Gallies which were bound for Alexandria, fortuned into many places, yet none of them affoording him any advancement. In the end, about three or foure yeeres after his departure from Gasparino, being now a brave yong man, and of very goodly forme: he understood, that his father (whom he supposed to be dead) was as yet living, but in captivity, and prisoner to King Charles. Wherefore, despairing of any successefull fortune, he wandred here and there, till he came to Lunigiana, and there (by strange accident) he became servant to Messer Conrado Malespino, where the service proved well liking to them both.
Very sildome times hee had a sight of his Mother, because shee alwayes kept company with Conradoes wife; and yet when they came within view of each other, shee knew not him, nor he her, so much yeres had altred them both from what they were wont to be, and when they saw each other last. Jehannot being thus in the service of Messer Conrado, it fortuned that a daughter of his, named Sophia, being the widdow of one Messer Nicolas Grignam, returned home to her Fathers house. Very beautifull and amiable she was, young likewise, aged but little above sixteene; growing wonderously amorous of Jehannot, and he of her, in extraordinary and most fervent manner: which love was not long without full effect, continuing many moneths before any person could perceyve it: which making them to build on the more assurance, they began to carry their meanes with lesse discretion then is required in such nice cases, and which cannot be too providently managed.
Upon a day, he and she walking to a goodly Wood, plentifully furnished with spreading Trees: having out gone the rest of their company, they made choise of a pleasant place, very daintily shaded and beautified with all sorts of flowers. There they spent some time in amorous talking, beside some other sweete embraces, which though it seemed over-short to them, yet was it so unadvisedly prolonged, that they were on a sodain surprized, first by the mother, and next by Messer Conrado himselfe; who greeving beyond measure, to be thus treacherously dealt withall, caused them to be apprehended by three of his servants; and (without telling them any reason why) led bound to another Castle of his, and fretting with extremity rage, concluded in his minde, that they should both shamefully be put to death.
The Mother unto this regardlesse daughter, having heard the angrie wordes of her Husband, and how hee would be revenged on the faulty; could not endure that he should be so severe: wherefore, although shee was likewise much afflicted in minde, and reputed her Daughter worthy (for so great an offence) of all cruell punnishment, yet she hasted to her displeased husband, and began to entreate, that hee would not runne on in such a furious spleene, now in his aged yeeres to be the murtherer of his owne childe, and soile his hands in the blood of his servant. Rather he might finde out some milde course for the satisfaction of his anger, by committing them to close imprisonment, there to remaine and mourne for their folly committed. The vertuous and religious Lady alledged so many commendable examples, and used such plenty of moving perswasions, that she quite altred his minde from putting them to death, and hee commanded onely, that they should separately be imprisoned, with little store of food, and lodging of the uneasiest, untill he should otherwise determine of them; and so it was done. What their life now was in captivity and continuall teares, with stricter abstinence then was needefull for them, all this I must commit to your consideration. Jehannot and Spina remaining in this comfortlesse condition, and an whole yeere being now out-worne, yet Conrado keeping them thus still imprisoned: it came to passe, that Don Pedro King of Arragon, by the meanes of Messer John de Procida, caused the Isle of Sicily to revolt, and tooke it away from King Charles; whereat Conrado (he being of the Ghibbiline faction) not a little rejoyced. Jehannot having intelligence thereof, by some of them that had him in custody, breathing foorth a vehement sighe, spake in this manner. Alas poore miserable wretch as I am! that have already gone begging thorough the world above foureteene yeeres, in expectation of nothing else but this opportunity; and now it is come, must I be in prison, to the end, that I should never more hope for any future happinesse? And how can I get forth of this prison, except it bee by death onely? How now, replyed the Officer of the Guard? What doth this businesse of great Kings concerne thee? What affayres hast thou in Sicily?
Once more Jehannot sighed extreamly, and returned him this answer. Me thinkes my heart (quoth hee) doeth cleave in sunder, when I call to minde the charge which my Father had there; for although I was but a little boy when I fled thence, yet I can well remember, that I saw him Governor there, at such time as King Manfred lived. The Guard, pursuing on still his purpose, demanded of him, what and who his Father was? My Father (replied Jehannot?) I may now securely speake of him, being out of the perill which neerely concerned me if I had beene discovered: he was the named (and so still if he be living) henriet Capece, and my name is Geoffrey, and not Jehannot; and I make no doubt, but if I were freed from hence, and might returned home to Sicily, I should (for his sake) be placed in some authority.
The honest man of the Guard, without seeking after any further information; so soone as he could compasse any leysure, reported all to Messer Conrado, who having heard these newes (albeit he made no shew thereof to the revealer) went to Madam Beritola, graciously demaunding of her, if she had any sonne by her husband, who was called Geoffrey. The Lady replyed in teares, that if her eldest sonne were as yet living, he was so named, and now aged about two and twenty yeeres. Conrado hearing this, imagined this same to be the man; considering further withall, that if it fell out to prove so, hee might have the better meanes of mercie, and closely concealing his daughters shame, joyfully joyne them in marriage together.
Hereupon, he secretly called Jehannot before him, examining him particularly of all his passed life, and finding (by most manifest arguments) that his name was truly Geoffrey, and the eldest son of Henriet Capece, he spake thus to him. Jehannot, thou knowest how great the injuries are that thou hast done me, and my deere daughter; gently intreating thee (as became an honest servant) that thou shouldest alwayes have bene respective of mine honor, and all that appertaine unto me. There are many noble Gentlemen, who sustaining the wrong which thou hast offred me, they would have procured thy shamefull death, which pitty and compassion will not suffer in me. Wherefore seeing (as thou informest me) that thou art honourably derived both by father and mother, I will give end to all thy anguishes, even when thy selfe art so pleased, releasing thee from that captivity wherein I have so long kept thee, and in one instant, reduce thine honor and mine into compleat perfection. As thou knowest my daughter Spina, whom thou hast embraced as a friend (although far unfitting for thee, or her) is a widdow, and her marriage is both great and good; what her manners and conditions are, thou indifferently knowest, and art not ignorant of her father and mother: concerning thine owne estate, as now I purpose not to speake any thing. Therefore, when thou wilt, I am determined, that whereas thou hast immodestly affected her, she shall become thy honest wife, and accepting thee as my sonne, to remaine with me so long as you both please.
Imprisonment had somwhat mishapen Jehannot in his outward forme, but not impaired a jot of his noble spirit; much lesse the true love which he bare his friend. And although most earnestly he desired that which now Conrado had so frankly offered him, and was in his power onely to bestow on him; yet could he not cloud any part of his greatnes, but with a resolved judgement, thus replied. My Lord, affectation of rule, desire of welthy possessions, or any other matter whatsoever could never make me a traitor to you or yours; but that I have loved, do love, and for ever shal love your beauteous daughter: if that be treason, I do free confesse it, and will die a thousand deaths before you or any else shall enforce me to deny it, for I hold her highly worthy of my love. If I have bin more unmannerly with her then became me, I have committed but that error, which evermore is so attendant uppon youth; that to deny, is to denie youth also. And if reverend age would but remember, that once he was young and measure others offences by his owne, they would not be thoght so great, as you (and many more) account them to be, mine being committed as a friend, and not as an enemy. What you make offer of so willingly, I have alwayes desired; and if I had thought it would have beene granted, long since I had most humbly requested it: and so much the more acceptable would it have bin to me, by how much the further off it stood from my hopes. But if you bee so forward as your words doe witnesse, then feed me not with any further fruitlesse expectation; but rather send me backe to prison, and lay as many afflictions on me as you please. For my endeered love to your daughter Spina, maketh mee to love you the more for her sake, how hardly soever you intreat me; and bindeth me in the greater reverence to you, as being the Father of my fairest friend.
Messer Conrado hearing these words, stood as one confounded with admiration, reputing him to be a man of loftie spirit, and his affection most fervent to his Daughter, which was not a little to his liking. Wherefore, embracing him, and kissing his cheeke, without any longer dallying, hee sent in like manner for his Daughter. Her restraint in prison, had made her lookes meager, pale, and wanne, and very weake was she also of her person, faire differing from the Woman she was wont to be, before be, before her affection to Jehannot. There in presence of her Father, and with free consent of either, they were contracted as man and wife, and the espousals agreed on according to custome. Some few dayes after, (without any ones knowledge of that which was done) having furnished them with all things fit for the purpose, and time aptly serving, that the Mothers should be partakers in this joy; he called his wife, and Madam Beritola, to whom first he spake in this manner.
What will you say Madame, if I cause you to see your eldest Son, not long since married to one of my daughters? Whereunto Beritola thus replied. My Lord, I can say nothing else unto you, but that I shal be much more obliged to you, then already I am; and the rather, because you will let me see the thing which is deerer then mine owne life; and rendering it unto me in such manner as you speake of, you will recall backe some part of my former lost hopes: and with these words, the teares streamed aboundantly from her eyes. Then turning to his wife, he said: And you deere Love, if I shew you such a Son in law, what will you thinke of it? Sir (quoth she) what pleaseth you, must and shall satisfie me, be he gentleman or beggar. Well said Madam, answered Messer Conrado, I hope shortly, to make you both joyfull. So when the amorous couple had recovered their former feature, and honorable garments prepared for them, privately thus he said to Geoffrey; Beyond the joy which already thou art inriched withall, how would it please thee to meete thine owne Mother here? I cannot beleeve Sir (replied Geoffrey) that her greevous misfortunes have suffered her to live so long; and yet, if heaven hath bin so mercifull to her, my joyes were incomparable, for by her gracious counsel, I might well hope to recover no meane happines in Sicily. Soone after, both the mothers were sent for, who were transported with unspeakable joy, when they beheld the so lately married couple: being much amazed what inspiration had guided Messer Conrado to this extraordinary benignity, in joyning Jehannot in marriage with Spina. Hereupon, Madam Beritola remembring the speeches betweene her and Messer Conrado, began to observe him very advisedly; and by a hidden vertue which long had silently slept in her, and now with joy of spirit awaked, calling to mind the lineatures of her sonnes infancy, without awaiting for any other demonstration, she folded him in her armes with earnest affection. Motherly joy and pity now contended so violently togither, that she was not able to utter one word, the sensitive vertues being so closely combined, that (even as dead) she fell downe in the armes of her Son. And he wondering greatly thereat, making a better recollection of his thoughts, did well remember, that hee had often before seene her in the Castle, without any other knowledge of her. Neverthelesse, by meere instinct of Nature, whose power in such actions declares it selfe to be highly predominant; his very soule assured him, that she was his Mother, and blaming his understanding, that he had not before bene better advised, he threw his armes about her, and wept exceedingly.
Afterward, by the loving paines of Conradoes wife, as also her daughter Spina, Madam Beritola (being recovered from her passionate traunce, and her vitall spirits executing their Offices againe) fell once more to the embracing of her Sonne, kissing him infinite times, with teares and speeches of motherly kindnesse, he likewise expressing the same dutifull humanity to her. Which ceremonious courtesies being passed over and over, to no little joy in all the beholders, beside repetition of their severall misfortunes, Messer Conrado made all knowne to his friends, who were very glad of this new alliance made by him, which was honoured with many solemne feastings. Which being all concluded, Geoffrey having found out fit place and opportunity, for conference with his new created Father, without any sinister opposition, began as followeth.
Honourable Father, you have raised my contentment to the highest degree, and have heaped also many gracious favours on my Noble Mother; but now in the finall conclusion, that nothing may remaine uneffected, which consisteth in your power to performe: I would humbly entreate you, to honour my Mother with your company, at a Feast of my making, where I would gladly also have my Brother present. Messer Gasparino d'Oria (as I have heretofore told you) questing as a common Pyrat on the Seas, tooke us and sent us home to his house as slaves, where (as yet) he detaineth him. I would likewise have you send into Sicily, who informing himselfe more amply in the state of the Countrey, may understand what is become of Henriet my Father, and whether he be living or no. If he be alive, then to know in what condition he is; and being secretly instructed in all things, then to returne backe againe to you.
This motion made by Geoffrey, was so pleasing to Conrado, that without any reference to further leysure, hee dispatched thence two discreete persons, the one to Geneway, and the other to Sicily: he which went for Geneway, having met with Gasparino, earnestly entreated him (on the behalfe of Conrado) to send him the Poore expelled; and his Nurse recounting every thing in order, which Conrado had tolde him, concerning Geoffrey and his mother. When Gasparino had heard the whole discourse, he marvelled greatly thereat, and saide; True it is, that I will doe any thing for Messer Conrado, which may bee to his love and liking, provided, that it lye in my power to performe; and (about some foureteene yeeres since) I brought such a Lad as you seeke for, with his mother, home to my house, whom I will gladly send unto him. But you may tell him from me, that I advise him from over-rash crediting the Fables of Jehannot, that now termes himselfe by the name of Geoffrey, because he is a more wicked boy then he taketh him to be, and so did I finde him.
Having thus spoken, and giving kinde welcome to the Messenger, secretly he called the Nurse unto him, whom hee heedfully examined concerning this case. She having heard the rebellion in the Kingdome of Sicily; and understanding withall that Henriet was yet living, joyfully threw off all her former feare, relating every thing to him orderly, and the reasons moving her to conceale the whole businesse in such manner as shee had done. Gasparino well perceiving, that the report of the Nurse, and the message received from Conrado, varied not in any one circumstance, began the better to credit her words. And being a man most ingenious, making further inquisition into the businesse, by all the possible meanes hee could devise; and finding every thing to yeeld undoubted assurance, ashamed of the vile and base usage wherein he had so long time kept the Lad, and desiring (by his best meanes) to make him amends, he had a beautifull daughter, aged about thirteene yeares, and knowing what manner of man he was, his Father Henriet also yet living, he gave her to him in marriage, with a very bountifull and honourable dowry.
The joviall dayes of feasting being past, he went aboord a Galley with the Poore expelled, his Daughter, the Ambassador, and the Nurse, departing thence to Lericy, where they were nobly welcommed by Messer Conrado, and his Castle being not farre from thence, with an honourable traine they were conducted thither, and entertained with all possible kindnesse. Now concerning the comfort of the Mother, meeting so happily with both her sonnes, the joy of the brethren and mother together, having also found the faithful Nurse, Gasparino and his daughter, in company now with Conrado and his wife, friends, familiars, and all generally in a jubilee of rejoycing: it exceedeth capacity in mee to expresse it, and therefore I referre it to your more able imagination.
In the time of this mutuall contentment, to the end that nothing might be wanting to compleat and perfect this universall joy; our Lord, a most abundant bestower where he beginneth, added long wished tydings concerning the life and good estate of Henry Capece. For, even as they were feasting, and the concourse great of worthy guests, both Lords and Ladies; the first service was scarsely set on the Tables, but the Ambassador which was sent to Sicily, arrived there before them. Among many other important matters, he spake of Henriet, who being so long a time detained in prison by King Charles, when the commotion arose in the Citty against the King; the people (grudging at Henriets long imprisonment) slew the Guards, and set him at liberty. Then as capitall enemie to King Charles, hee was created Captaine Generall, following the chase, and killing the French.
Now by this meanes, he grew great in the grace of King Pedro, who replanted him in all the goods and honours which he had before, with verie high and eminent authority. Hereunto the Ambassador added, that hee was entertayned with extraordinary grace, and delivery of publike joy and exaltation, when his Wife and Sonne were knowne to be living, of whom no tydings had at any time bene heard, since the houre of his surprizall. Moreover, that a swift winged Bark was now sent thither (upon the happy hearing of this newes) well furnished with noble Gentlemen, to attend till their returning backe. We neede to make no doubt concerning the tydings brought by this Ambassadour, nor of the Gentlemens welcome, thus sent to Madame Beritola and Geoffrey; who before they would sit downe at the Table, saluted Messer Conrado and his kinde Lady (on the behalfe of Henriet) for all the great graces extended to her and her Sonne, with promise of any thing, lying in the power of Henriet, to rest continually at their command. The like they did to Signior Gasparino (whose liberall favours came unlooked for) with certaine assurance, that when Henriet should understand what he had done for his other Sonne, the Poore expelled, there would be no defaylance of reciprocall courtesies.
As the longest joyes have no perpetuity of lasting, so all these graceful ceremonies had their conclusion, with as many sighes and teares at parting, as joyes abounded at their first encountring. Imagine then, that you see such aboord, as were to have here no longer abiding, Madam Beritola and Geoffrey, with the rest; as the Poore expelled, the so late married Wives, and the faithfull Nurse bearing them company. With prosperous windes they arrived in Sicily, where the Wife, Sonnes, and Daughters, were joyfully met by Henriet at Palermo, and with such honourable pompe, as a case so important equally deserved. The Histories make further mention, that there they lived (a long while after) in much felicitie, with thankfull hearts (no doubt) in Heaven, in acknowledgement of so many great mercies received.
Peradventure the Novell related by Madam Aemillia, did not extend it selfe so farre in length, as it mooved compassion in the Ladies mindes, the hard fortunes of Beritol and her Children, which had incited them to weeping: but that it pleased the Queen (upon the Tales conclusion) to command Pamphilus, to follow next in order with his Discourse; and he being thereto very obedient, began in this manner.
It is a matter of no meane difficulty (vertuous Ladies) for us to take intire knowledge of every thing we doe, because (as oftentimes hath bene observed) many men, imagining if they were rich, they should live securely, and without any cares. And therefore, not onely have theyr prayers and intercessions aimed at that end, but also their studies and daily endevours, without refusall of any paines or perils have not meanely expressed their hourely solicitude. And although it hath happened accordingly to them, and their covetous desires fully accomplished; yet at length they have mette with such kinde people, who likewise thirsting after their wealthy possessions, have bereft them of life, being their kinde and intimate friends, before they attained to such riches. Some other, being of lowe and base condition, by adventuring in many skirmishes and foughten battels, trampling in the bloud of their brethren and friends, have bene mounted to the soveraigne dignity of Kingdomes (beleeving that therein consisted the truest happinesse) but bought with the deerest price of their lives. For, beside their infinit cares and feares wherewith such greatnesse is continually attended, at the royall Tables, they have drunke poyson in a Golden pot. Many other in like manner (with most earnest appetite) have coveted beauty and bodily strength, not foreseeing with any judgement, that these wishes were not without perill; when being endued with them, they either have bene the occasion of their death, or such a lingering lamentable estate of life, as death were a thousand times more welcome to them.
But, because I would not speake particularly of all our fraile and humane affections, I dare assure ye, that there is not any one of these desires to be elected among us mortals, with entire forsight or providence, warrantable against their ominous yssue. Wherefore, if we would walke directly, wee should dispose our willes and affections, to be guided onely by him, who best knoweth what is needfull for us, and will bestow them at his good pleasure. Nor let me lay this blamefull imputation uppon men onely, for offending in many through over lavish desires: because you your selves (gracious Ladies) sinne highly in one, as namely, in coveting to be beautifull. So that it is not sufficient for you, to enjoy those beauties bestowne on you by Nature; but you practice to increase them by the rarities of Art. Wherefore, let it not offend you, that I tell you the hard fortune of a faire Sarazine, to whom it hapned by straunge adventures, that within the compasse of foure yeares, nine severall times to be married. and onely for her beauty.
It is now a long time since, that there lived Soldane in Babylon, named Beminidab, to whom (while he lived) many things happened, answerable to his owne desires. Among divers other Children both male and female, hee had a daughter called Alathiella, and shee (according to the common voyce of every one that saw her) was the fayrest Lady then living in all the world. And because the King of Cholcos had wonderfully assisted him, in a most valiant foughten battell against a mighty Armie of Arabians, who on a sodaine had assailed him; he demanded his faire daughter in marriage, which likewise was kindly granted to him. Whereupon a goodly and well-armed Ship was prepared for her, with full furnishment of all necessary provision, and accompanied with an honourable traine both of Lords and Ladies, as also most costly and sumptuous accoustrements; commending her to the mercy of heaven, in this maner was she sent away.
The time being propitious for their parting thence, the Mariners hoised their sayles, leaving the port of Alexandria, and sayling prosperously many dayes together. When they had past the Countrey of Sardinia, and (as they imagined) were well neere to their journeyes end; sodainely arose boysterous and contrary windes, which were so impetuous beyond all measure, and so tormented the Ship wherein the Lady was; that the Mariners seeing no signe of comfort, gave over all hope of escaping with life. Neverthelesse, as men most expert in implacable dangers, they laboured to their uttermost power, and contended with infinite blustring tempests, for the space of two dayes and nights together, hoping the third day would prove more favourable. But therein they saw themselves deceyved, for the violence continued still, encreasing in the night time more and more, being not any way able to comprehend either where they were, or what course they tooke, neither by Marinall judgement, or any apprehension else whatsoever, the heavens were so clouded, and the nights darkenesse so extreame. Beeing (unknowne to them) neere the Isle of Majorica, they felt the Shippe to split in the bottome: by meanes whereof, perceiving now no hope of escaping (every one caring for himselfe, and not any other) they threw foorth a Squiffe on the troubled waves, reposing more confidence of safety that way, then abiding any longer in the broken ship. Howbeit such as were first descended downe, made stout resistance against all other followers, with their drawne weapons: but safety of life so far prevayled, that what with the Tempests violence, and over lading of the Squiffe, it sunke to the bottome, and all perished that were therein. The Ship being thus split, and more then halfe full of water, tossed and tormented by the blustring windes, first one way, and then another: was at last driven into a strond of the Isle Majorica, no other persons therein remaining, but onely the Lady and her women, all of them (through the rude tempest, and their owne conceived feare) lying still, as if they were more then halfe dead. And there, within a stones cast of the neighboring shore the ship (by the rough surging billowes) was fixed fast in the sands, and so continued all the rest of the night, without any further molestation of the windes.
When day appeared, and the violent stormes were more mildly appeased the Ladie, who seemed well-neere dead, lifted up her head, and began (weake as she was) to call first one, and then another: but shee called in vaine, for such as she named were farre enough from her. Wherefore, hearing no answere, nor seeing any one, she wondred greatly, her feares encreasing then more and more. Raising her selfe so well as shee could, she beheld the Ladies that were of her company, and some other of her women, lying still without any stirring: whereupon, first jogging one, and then another, and calling them severally by their names; shee found them bereft of understanding, and even as if they were dead, their hearts were so quayled, and their feare so over-ruling, which was no meane dismay to the poore Lady her selfe. Neverthelesse, necessity now being her best counsellor, seeing her selfe thus all alone, and not knowing in what place shee was, shee used such meanes to them that were living, that (at the last) they came to better knowledge of themselves. And being unable to guesse, what was become of the men and Marriners, seeing the Ship also driven on the sands, and filled with water, she began with them to lament most greevously: and now it was about the houre of mid day, before they could descry any person on the shore, or any els to pity them in so urgent a necessity.
At length, noone being past, a Gentleman named Bajazeth, attended by divers of his followers on horsebacke, and returning from a Countrie house belonging to him, chanced to ride by on the sands. Uppon sight of the Ship lying in that case, he imagined truely what had hapned, and commanded one of his men to enter aboord it, which (with some difficultie) hee did, to resolve his Lord what remained therein. There hee found the faire yong Lady, with such small store of company as was left her, fearefully hidden under the prow of the Ship. So soone as they saw him, they held up their hands, wofully desiring mercy of him: but he perceiving their lamentable condition, and that hee understoode not what they saide to him, their affliction grew the greater, labouring by signes and gestures, to give him knowledge of their misfortune.
The servant gathering what he could by their outward behaviour, declared to his Lord what hee had seene in the Ship; who caused the Women to be brought on shore, and all the precious things remaining with them; conducting them with him to a place not far off, where with food and warmth he gave them comfort. By the rich garments which the Lady was cloathed withall, he reputed her to be a Gentlewoman well derived, as the great reverence done to her by the rest, gave him good reason to conceive. And although her lookes were pale and wan, as also her person mightily altered, by the tempestuous violence of the Sea: yet notwithstanding, she appeared faire and lovely in the eye of Bajazeth, whereupon forthwith he determined, that if she were not married, hee would enjoy her as his owne in marriage: or if he could not winne her to bee his wife, yet (at the least) shee should be his friend, because she remained now in his power.
Bajazeth was a man of stearne lookes, rough and harsh both in speech and behaviour; yet causing the Lady to be honourably used divers dayes together, shee became thereby well comforted and recovered. And seeing her beautie to exceede all comparison, he was afflicted beyond measure, that he could not understand her, nor she him, whereby hee could not know of whence or what she was. His amorous flames encreasing more and more; by kinde, courteous, and affable actions, he laboured to compasse what he aymed at. But all his endeavour proved to no purpose, for she refused all familiar privacie with him, which so much the more kindled the fury of his fire. This being well observed by the Lady, having now remained there a moneth and more, and collecting by the customes of the Countrey, that she was among Turkes; and in such a place, where although she were knowne, yet it would little advantage her; beside, that long protraction of time would provoke Bajazeth by faire meanes or force to obtaine his will: she propounded to her selfe (with magnanimity of spirit) to tread all misfortunes under her feete, commanding her Women (whereof shee had but three now remaining alive) that they should not disclose what she was, except it were in some such place, where manifest signes might yeeld hope of regaining their liberty. Moreover, she admonished them stoutly to defend their honour and chastity; affirming, that she had absolutely resolved with her selfe, that never any other shou enjoy her, but her intended husband: wherein her women did much commend her, promising to preserve their reputation, according as shee had commanded.
Day by day, were the torments of Bajazeth wonderfully augmented, yet still his kinde offers scornefully refused, and he as farre off from compassing his desires, as when he first beganne to moove the matter: wherefore, perceiving that all faire courses served to no effect, hee resolved to compasse his purpose by craft and subtilty, reserving rigorous extremitie for his finall conclusion. And having once observed, that wine was verie pleasing to the Lady, she being never used to drinke any at all, because (by her Countries Law) it was forbidden her: and no meane store having beene lately brought to Bajazeth in a Barke of Geneway: hee resolved to surprize her by meanes thereof, as a cheefe minister of Venus, to heate the coolest blood. And seeming now in his outward behaviour, as if hee had given over his amorous pursuite, and which she strove by all her best endeavours to withstand: one night, after a very majesticke and solemne manner, hee prepared a delicate and sumptuous supper, whereto the Lady was invited: and hee had given order, that hee who attended on her Cup, should serve her with many Wines compounded and mingled together; which hee accordingly performed, as being cunning enough in such occasions.
Alathiella mistrusting no such trechery intended against her, and liking the Wines pleasing taste extraordinarily, dranke more then stoode with her precedent modest resolution, and forgetting all her passed adversities, became very frolicke and merry: so that seeing some women dance after the manner observed there in Majorica, she also fell to dauncing according to the Alexandrian custome. Which when Bajazeth beheld, he imagined the victory to be more then halfe wonne, and his hearts desire verie neere the obtaining: plying her still with wine upon wine, and continuing this revelling the most part of the night.
At the length, the invited guests being all gone, the Lady retyred then to her chamber, attended on by none but Bajazeth himselfe, and as familiarly as if he had bene one of her women, shee no way contradicting his bold intrusion, so farre had wine over-gone her sences, and prevailed against all modest bashfulnesse. These wanton embracings, strange to her that had never tasted them before, yet pleasing beyond measure, by reason of his treacherous advantage; afterward drew on many more of the ike carowsing meetings, without so much as thought of her passed miseries, or those more honourable and chaste respects, that ever ought to attend on Ladies.
Now, Fortune envying thus their stollen pleasures, and that shee, being the purposed wife of a potent King, should thus become the wanton friend of a much mean man, whose onely glory was her shame; altered the course of their too common pastimes, by preparing a farre greater infelicity for them. This Bajazeth had a Brother, aged about five and twenty yeeres, of most compleate person, in the very beauty of his time, and fresh as the sweetest smelling Rose, he being named Amurath. After he had once seene this Ladie (whose faire feature pleased him beyond all womens else) shee seemed in his sodaine apprehension, both by her outward behaviour and civill apparancie, highly to deserve his verie best opinion, for she was not meanely entred into his favour. Now hee found nothing to his hinderance, in obtaining the heighth of his hearts desire, but onely the strict custodie and guard, wherein his brother Bajazeth kept her: which raised a cruell conceite in his minde, wherein followed (not long after) as cruell an effect.
It came to passe, that at the same time; in the Port of the Cittie, called Caffa, there lay then a Ship laden with Merchandize, being bound thence for Smyrna, of which Ship two Geneway Merchants (being brethren) were the Patrons and Owners, who had given direction for hoysing the sailes to depart thence when the winde should serve. With these two Genewayes Amurath had covenanted, for himselfe to goe aboord the ship the night ensuing, and the Lady in his company. When night was come, having resolved with himselfe what was to be done: in a disguised habite hee went to the house of Bajazeth, who stood not any way doubtfull of him, and with certaine of his most faithfull Confederates (whom he had sworne to the intended action) they hid themselves closely in the house. After some part of the night was over-past, he knowing the severall lodgings both of Bajazeth and Alathiella, slew his brother soundly sleeping; and seizing on the Lady, whom he found awake and weeping, threatned to kill her also, if she made any noyse. So, being well furnished with the greater part of worldly jewels belonging to Bajazeth, unheard or undescried by any body, they went presently to the Port, and there (without any further delay) Amurath and the Lady were received into the Ship, but his companions returned backe againe; when the Mariners, having their sailes ready set, and the winde aptly fitting for them, lanched forth merrily into the maine.
You may well imagine, that the Ladie was extraordinarily afflicted with greefe for her first misfortune; and now this second chancing so sodainely, must needs offend her in greater manner: but Amurath did so kindely comfort her with milde, modest, and manly perswasions, that all remembrance of Bajazeth was quickely forgotten, and shee became converted to lovely demeanor, even when Fortune prepared a fresh miserie for her, as not satisfied with those whereof shee had tasted already. The Lady being unequalled for beauty (as I said before) her behaviour also in such exquisit and commendable kinde expressed; the two Brethren owners of the Ship, became so deeply enamored of her, that forgetting all their more serious affaires, they studied by all possible meanes, to be pleasing and gracious in her eye, yet with such a carefull carriage, that Amurath should neither see, or suspect it.
When the Brethren had imparted their loves extreamity each to the other, and plainely perceyved, that though they were equally in their fiery torments, yet their desires were utterly contrary: they began severally to consider, that gaine gotten by Mirchandize, admitted an equall and honest division, but this purchase was of a different quality, pleading the title of a sole possession, without any partner or intruder. Fearefull and jealous were they both, least either should ayme at the others intention, yet willing enough to shake hands, in ridding Amurath out of the way, who onely was the hinderer of their hopes, Whereupon they concluded together, that on a day when the Ship sayled on very swiftly, and Amurath was sitting upon the Decke, studiously observing how the Billowes combatted each with other, and not suspecting any such treason in them towards him: stealing softly behinde him, sodainely they threw him into the Sea, the shippe floating on above halfe a Leagues distance, before any perceived his fall into the Sea. When the Ladie heard thereof, and saw no likely meanes of recovering him againe, she fell to her wonted teares and lamentations: but the two Lovers came quickely to comfort her, using kinde words and pithy perswasions (albeit she understood them not, or at the most very little) to appease the violence of her passions; and, to speak uprightly, she did not so much emoane the losse of Amurath, as the multiplying of her owne misfortunes, still one succeeding in the necke of another. After divers long and well delivered Orations, as also very faire and courteous behaviour, they had indifferently pacified her complainings: they beganne to discourse and commune with themselves, which of them had most right and title to Alathiella, and consequently ought to enjoy her. Now that Amurath was gone, each pleaded his priviledge to bee as good as the others, both in the Ship, Goods, and all advantages else whatsoever happening: which the elder brother absolutely denied, alleadging first his propriety of birth, a reason sufficient, whereby his younger ought to give him place: Likewise, his right and interest both in the ship and goods, to be more then the others, as being heire to his father, and therefore in justice to be highest preferred. Last of all, that his strength onely threw Amurath into the Sea, and therefore gave him the full possession of his prize, no right at all remaining to his brother.
From temperate and calme speeches, they fell to frownes and ruder Language, which heated their blood in such violent manner, that forgetting brotherly affection, and all respect of Parents or Friends, they drew forth their Ponyards, stabbing each other so often and desperately, that before any in the shippe had the power or meanes to part them, both of them being very dangerously wounded, the younger brother fell downe dead: the elder being in little better case, by receiving so many perilous hurts, remained (neverthelesse) living. This unhappy accident displeased the Lady very highly, seeing her selfe thus left alone, without the help or counsell of any bodie; and fearing greatly, least the anger of the two Brethrens Parents and Friends, should now bee laide to her charge, and thereon follow severity of punishment. But the earnest entreaties of the wounded surviver, and their arrivall at Smirna soone after, delivered him from the danger of death, gave some ease to her sorrow, and there with him she went on shore. Remaining there with him in a common Inne, while he continued in the Chirurgians cure, the fame of her singular and much admired beauty was soone spread abroad throughout all the City: and amongst the rest, to the hearing of the Prince of Ionia, who lately before (on very urgent occasions) was come to Smyrna. This rare rumour, made him desirous to see her, and after he had seene her, shee seemed farre fairer in his eye, then common report had noised her to be, and suddenly grew so enamored of her, that she was the onely Idea of his best desires. Afterward, understanding in what manner shee was brought thither, he devised how to make her his own, practising all possible meanes to accomplish it: which when the wounded Brothers Parents heard of, they not onely made tender of their willingnesse therein, but also immediately sent her to him: a matter most highly pleasing to the Prince, and likewise to the Lady her selfe; because she thought now to be freed from no meane perill, which (otherwise) the wounded Merchants friends might have inflicted uppon her.
The Prince perceiving, that beside her matchlesse beauty, shee had the true character of Royall behaviour; greeved the more, that he could not be further informed of what Countrey shee was. His opinion being so stedfastly grounded, that (lesse then Noble) she could not be, was a motive to set a keener edge on his affection towardes her, yet not to enjoy her as in honoirable and loving complement onely, but as his espoused Lady and Wife. Which appearing to her by apparant demonstrations, though entercourse of speech wanted to confirme it; remembrance of her so many sad disasters, and being now in a most noble and respected condition, her comfort enlarged it selfe with a setled hope, her feares grew free from any more mollestations, and her beauties became the onely theame and argument of private and publike conference in all Natolia, that (well-neere) there was no other discourse, in any Assembly whatsoever.
Heereupon the Duke of Athens, beeing young, goodly, and valiant of person as also a neere Kinsman to the Prince, had a desire to see her; and under colour of visiting his noble Kinsman, (as oftentimes before he had done) attended with an honourable traine, to Smirna he came, being there most royally welcommed, and bounteously feasted. Within some few dayes of his there being, conference passed betweene them, concerning the rare beauty of the Ladie; the Duke questioning the Prince, whether shee was of such wonder, as fame had acquainted the World withall? Whereto the Prince replyed; Much more (Noble kinsman) then can bee spoken of, as your owne eyes shall witnesse, without crediting any words of mine. The Duke soliciting the Prince thereto very earnestly, they both went together to see her; and she having before heard of their comming, adorned her selfe the more Majestically, entertaining them with ceremonious demeanor (after her Countries custome) which gave most gracious and unspeakable acception.
At the Princes affable motion, shee sate downe betweene them, their delight being beyond expression, to behold her, but abridged of much more felicitie, because they understood not any part of her Language: so that they could have no other conference, but by lookes and outward signes onely; and the more they beheld her, the more they marvelled at her rare perfections, especially the Duke, who hardly credited that shee was a mortall creature. Thus not perceyving, what deepe carowses of amorous poyson his eyes dranke downe by the meere sight of her, yet thinking thereby onely to bee satisfied, hee lost both himselfe and his best sences, growing in love (beyond all measure) with her. When the Prince and he were parted from her, and hee was at his owne private amorous- meditations in his Chamber, he reputed the Prince farre happier then any man else whatsoever, by the enjoying of such a peerelesse beauty.
After many intricate and distracted cogitations, which molested his braines incessantly, regarding more his loves wanton heate, then reason, kindred, and honourable hospitality; he resolutely determined (whatsoever ensued thereupon) to bereave the Prince of his faire felicity, that none but himselfe might possesse such a treasure, which he esteemed to bee the height of all happinesse. His courage being conformable to his bad intent, with all hast it must be put in execution; so that equity, justice, and honesty, being quite abandoned, nothing but subtile stratagems were now his meditations.
On a day, according to a fore-compacted treachery which he had ordered with a Gentleman of the Princes Chamber, who was named Churiacy, he prepared his horses to be in readinesse, and dispatched all his affaires else for a sodaine departure. The night following, hee was secretly conveyed by the said Churiacy, and a friend of his with him (being both armed) into the Princes Chamber, where he (while the Ladie was soundly sleeping) stood at a gazing window towards the Sea, naked in his shirt, to take the coole ayre, because the season was exceeding hot. Having formerly enstructed his friend what was to be done, very softly they stept to the Prince, and running their weapons quite thorow his bodie, immediately they threw him forth of the window.
Here you are to observe, that the Pallace was seated on the Sea shore, and verie high, and the Window whereat the Prince then stood looking foorth, was directly over divers houses, which the long continuance of time, and incessant beating on by the surges of the Sea, had so defaced and ruined them, as seldome they were visited by any person; whereof the Duke having knowledge before, was the easier perswaded that the falling of the Princes body in so vast a place, could neither bee heard or descryed by any. The Duke and his Companion, having thus executed what they came for, proceeded yet in their cunning a little further; casting a strangling Cord about the necke of Churiacy, seemed as if they hugged and imbraced him: but drew it with so maine strength, that he never spake word after, and so threw him downe after the Prince.
This done, and plainely perceiving that they were not heard or seene, either by the Lady, or any other: the Duke tooke a light in his hand, going on to the bed, where the Lady lay most sweetely sleeping; whom the more he beheld, the more he admired and commended: but if in her garments shee appeared so pleasing, what did shee now in a bed of such state and Majestie? Being no way daunted with his so late committed sin, but swimming rather in surfet of joy, his hands all bloody, and his soule much more ugly; he laide him downe on the bed by her, bestowing infinite kisses and embraces on her, she supposing him to be the Prince all this while, not opening her eyes to bee otherwise resolved. But this was not the delight he aymed at, neither did he thinke it safe for him, to delay time with any longer tarrying there: Wherefore, having his agents at hand fit and convenient for the purpose, they surprized her in such sort, that shee could not make any noyse or outcry, and carrying her through the same false posterne, whereat themselves had entred, laying her in a Princely litter; away they went with all possible speede, not tarrying in any place, untill they were arrived neere Athens. But thither he would not bring her, because himselfe was a married man, but rather to a goodly Castle of his owne, not distant farre from the City; where he caused her to bee kept very secretly (to her no little greefe and sorrow) yet attended on and served in most honourable manner.
The Gentlemen usually attending on the Prince, having waited all the next morning till noone, in expectation of his rising, and hearing no stirring in the Chamber, did thrust at the doore, which was but onely closed together, and finding no body there, they presently imagined, that he was privately gone to some other place, where (with the Ladie, whom he so deerely affected) hee might remaine some few dayes for his more contentment, and so they rested verily perswaded. Within some few dayes following, while no other doubt came in question, the Princes Foole, entering by chance among the ruined houses, where lay the dead bodies of the Prince and Churiacy: tooke hold of the cord about Churiacyes necke, and so went along dragging it after him. The dead body being knowne to many, with no meane mervaile how he should bee murthered in so vile manner: by gifts and faire perswasions they wonne him to bring them to the place where he found it. And there (to the no little greefe of the whole Cittie) they found the Princes body also, which they caused to bee intered with all the most Majesticke pompe that might be.
Upon further inquisition, who should commit horrid a deede, perceyving likewise that the Duke of Athens was not to be found, but was closely gone: they judged (according to the truth) that he had his hand in this bloody businesse, and had carried away the Lady with him. Immediately, they elected the Princes brother to be their Lord and Soveraigne, inciting him to revenge so horrid a wrong, and promising to assist him with their utmost power. The new chosen Prince being assured afterward, by other more apparant and remarkeable proofes, that his people informed him With nothing but truth: sodainly, and according as they had concluded, with the help of neighbors, kindred and frends, collected from divers places; he mustred a good and powerfull army, marching on towards Athens, to make war against the Duke.
No sooner heard he of this warlike preparation made against him, but he likewise levied forces for his owne defence, and to his succour came many great States: among whom, the Emperor of Constantinople sent his sonne Constantine, attended on by his Nephew Emanuell, with Troopes of faire and towardly force, who were honoutably welcommed and entertained by the Duke, but much more by the Dutchesse, because shee was their sister in Law.
Military provision thus proceeding on daily more and more, the Dutches making choise of a fit and convenient houre, took these two Princes with her to a with-drawing Chamber; and there in flouds of teares flowing from her eyes, wringing her hands, and sighing incessantly, she recounted the whole History, occasion of the warre, and how dishonourably the Duke dealt with her about this strange woman, whom hee purposed to keepe in despight of her, as thinking that she knew nothing therof, and complaining very earnestly unto them, entreated that for the Dukes honour, and her comfort, they would give their best assistance in this case.
The two young Lords knew all this matter, before shee thus reported it to them; and therefore, without staying to listen [to] her any longer, but comforting her so wel as they could, with promise of their best emploied paines: being informd by her, in what place the Lady was so closely kept they took their leave, and parted from her. Often they had heard the Lady much commended, and her incomparable beauty highly extolled, yea even by the Duke himselfe; which made them the more desirous to see her: wherfore earnestly they solicited him to let them have a sight of her, and he (forgetting what happened to the Prince, by shewing her so unadvisedly to him) made them promise to grant their request. Causing a very magnificent dinner to be prepared, and in a goodly garden, at the Castle where the Lady was kept: on the morrow, attended on by a smal traine, away they rode to dine with her.
Constantine being seated at the Table, hee began (as one confounded with admiration) to observe her judiciously, affirming secretly to his soule that he had never seene so compleat a woman before; and allowing it for justice, that the Duke or any other whosoever, if (to enjoy so rare a beauty) they had committed treason, or any mischeefe els beside, yet in reason they ought to be held excused. Nor did he bestow so many lookes upon her, but his praises infinitely surpassed them, as thinking that he could not sufficiently commend her, following the Duke step by step in affection; for being now growne amorous of her, and remembrance of the intended warre utterly abandoned; no other thoughts could come neerer him but how to bereave the Duke of her, yet concealing his love, and not imparting it to any one.
While his fancies were thus amorously set on fire, the time came, that they must make head against the Prince, who already was marching with in the Dukes dominions: wherfore the Duke, Constantine, and all the rest, according to a counsel held among them, went to defend certaine of the Frontiers, to the end that the Prince might passe no further. Remaining there divers dayes together, Constantine (who could thinke on nothing else but the beautiful Lady) considered with himself, that while the Duke was now so farre from her, it was an easie matter to compasse his intent: Hereupon, the better to colour his present returne to Athens, he seemed to be surprized with a sudden extreame sicknesse, in regard whereof (by the Dukes free license, and leaving all his power to his Cosen Emanuel) forthwith he journyed backe to Athens. After some conference had with his sister, about her dishonourable wrongs endured at his hands onely, by the Lady, he solemnly protested, that if she were so pleased, hee would aide her powerfully in the matter, by taking her from the place where shee was, and never more afterward, to be seene in that Country any more.
The Dutchesse being faithfully perswaded, that he would do this onely for her sake, and not in any affection he bare to the Lady, answered, that it highly pleased her; alwayes provided, that it might be performed in such sort, as the Duke her husband should never understand, that ever she gave any consent thereto; which Constantine sware unto her by many deepe oaths, whereby she referred all to his owne disposition. Constantine heereupon secretly prepared in a readinesse a subtile Barke, sending it in an evening, neere to the Garden where the Lady resorted; having first informed the people which were in it, fully what was to be done. Afterwards, accompanied with some other of his attendants, he went to the Palace to the Lady, where he was gladly entertained, not onely by such as wayted on her, but also by the Lady her selfe.
Leading her along by the arme towards the Garden, attended on by two of her servants, and two of his owne; seeming as if he was sent from the Duke, to conferre with her: they walked alone to a Port opening on the Sea, which standing ready open, upon a signe given by him to one of his complices, the Barke was brought close to the shore; and the Ladie being sodainly seized on, was immediately conveyed into it; and he returning backe to her people, with his sword drawne, said: Let no man stirre, or speake a word, except he be willing to loose his life: for I intend not to rob the Duke of his faire friend, but to expell the shame and dishonor that he hath offered to my Sister: no one being so hardy as to returne him any answer. Aboord went Constantine with his consorts, and sitting neere to the Lady, who wrung her hands, and wept bitterly; he commaunded the Mariners to launch forth, flying away on the wings of the winde, till about the breake of day following, they arrived at Melasso. There they tooke landing, and reposed on shore for some few dayes, Constantine labouring to comfort the Lady, even as if she had bene his owne Sister, shee having good cause to curse her infortunate beauty.
Going aboord the Barke againe, within few dayes they came to Setalia, and there fearing the reprehension of his father, and least the Lady should be taken from him; it pleased Constantine to make his stay, as in a place of no meane security. And (as before) after much kinde behaviour used towards the Lady, without any meanes in her selfe to redresse the least of all these great extremities, she became more milde and affable, for discontentment did not a jot quaile her.
While occurrences passed on in this manner, it fortuned, that Osbech the King of Turky (who was in continuall war with the Emperour) came by accident to Lajazzo: and hearing there how lasciviously Constantine spent his time in Setalia, with a Lady which he had stolne, being but weake and slenderly guarded; in the night with certaine well provided ships, his men and he entred the town, and surprized many people in their beds, before they knew of their enimies comming, killing such as stood upon their defence against them, (among whom was Constantine) and burning the whole Towne, brought their booty and prisoners aboord their Shippes, wherewith they returned backe to Lajazzo. Being thus come to Lajazzo, Osbech who was a brave and gallant young man, upon a review of the pillage, found the faire Lady, whom he knew to be the beloved of Constantine, because shee was found lying on his bed. Without any further delay, he made choice of her to be his wife; causing his nuptials to be honourably solemnized, and many moneths he lived there in great joy with her.
But before occasions grew to this effect, the Emperour made a confederacie with Bassano, King of Cappadocia, that hee should descend with his forces, one way upon Osbech, and he would assault him with his power on the other. But he could not so conveniently bring this to passe, because the Emperour would not yeeld to Bassano, in any unreasonable matter he demanded. Neverthelesse, when hee understoode what had happened to his Sonne (for whom his greefe was beyond all measure) hee graunted the King of Cappadociaes request; soliciting him with all instancy, to be the more speedy in assayling Osbech. It was not long, before hee heard of this conjuration made against him; and therefore hee speedily mustered up all his forces, ere he would be encompassed by two such potent kings, and marched on to meete the King of Cappadocia, leaving his Ladie and Wife (for her safety) at Lajazzo, in the custodie of a true and loyall Servant of his.
Within a short while after, he drew neere the Campe belonging to the King of Cappadocia, where boldly he gave him battell; chancing therein to be slaine, his Army broken and discomfited, by meanes whereof, the King of Cappadocia remaining Conquerour, marched on towardes Lajazzo, every one yeelding him obeysance all the way as he went. In the meane space, the servant to Osbech, who was named Antiochus, and with whom the faire Ladie was left in guard; although hee was aged, yet seeing shee was so extraordinarily beautifull, he fell in love with her, forgetting the solemne vowes he had made to his master. One happinesse he had in this case to helpe him, namely, that he understood and could speake her Language: a matter of no meane comfort to her, who constrainedly had lived divers yeeres together, in the state of a deafe or dumbe Woman, because every where else they understoode her not, nor shee them, but by shewes and signes.
This benefite of familiar conference, beganne to embolden his hopes, elevate his courage, and make him seeme more youthfull in his owne opinion, then any ability of body could speake unto him, or promise him in the possession of her, who was so farre beyond him, and so unequall to be enjoyed by him; yet to advance his hopes a great deale higher, Newes came, that Osbech was vanquished and slaine, and that Bassano made every where havocke of all: whereon they concluded together, not to tarrie there any longer, but storing themselves with the goods of Osbech, secretly they departed thence to Rhodes. Being : g seated there in some indifferent abiding, it came to passe, that Antiochus fell into a deadly sickenesse, to whom came a Cyprian Merchant, one much esteemed by him, as beeing an intimate friend and kinde acquaintance, and in whom hee reposed no small confidence. Feeling his sickenesse to encrease more and more upon him dayly, hee determined, not onely to leave such wealth as hee had to this Merchant, but the faire Lady likewise. And calling them both to his beds side, he spake in this manner.
Deere Love, and my most worthily respected friend, I perceive plainly and infallibly, that I am drawing neere unto my end, which much discontenteth me; because my hope was to have lived longer in this world, for the enjoying of your kinde and most esteemed company. Yet one thing maketh my death very pleasing and welcome to me; namely, that lying thus in my bed of latest comfort in this life, I shall expire and finish my course, in the armes of those two persons, whome I most affected in all this world, as you my ever-deerest friend, and you faire Lady, whom (since the very first sight of you) I loved and honoured in my soule. Irkesome and verie greevous it is to me, that (if I dye) I shall leave you here a stranger, without the counsaile and helpe of any bodie: and yet much more offensive would it become, if I had not such a friend as you heere present, who (I am faithfully perswaded) will have the like care and respect of her (even for my sake) as of my selfe, if time had allotted my longer tarrying here. And therefore (worthy friend) most earnestly I desire you, that if I dye, all mine affaires and she may remaine to your trustie care, as being (by my selfe) absolutely commended to your providence, and so to dispose both of the one and other, as may best agree with the comfort of my soule. As for you (choice beauty) I humbly entreate, that after my death you would not forget me, to the end, I may make my vaunt in another world, that I was affected here by the fairest Lady that ever Nature framed. If of these two things you will give mee assurance, I shall depart from you with no meane comfort.
The friendly Merchant, and likewise the Ladie, hearing these words, wept both bitterly: and after hee had given over speaking, kindely they comforted him, with promises and solemne Vowes, that if hee dyed, all should be performed which hee had requested. Within a short while after, he departed out of this life, and they gave him verie honourable buriall, according to that Country custome. Which being done, the Merchant dispatching all his affaires at Rhodes, was desirous to returne home to Cyprus, in a Carracke of the Catelans then there being: mooving the Ladie in the matter, to understand how shee stoode enclined, because urgent occasions called him thence to Cyprus. The Lady made answere, that shee was willing to passe thither with him, hoping for the love hee bare to deceased Antiochus, that hee would respect her as his Sister. The Merchant was willing to give her any contentment, but yet resolved her, that under the title of being his Sister, it would be no warrant of securitie to them both. Wherefore, hee rather advised her, to stile him as her husband, and he would terme her his Wife, and so hee should be sure to defend her from all injuries whatsoever.
Being aboord the Carrack, they had a Cabine and small bed conveniently allowed them, where they slept together, that they might the better be reputed as man and wife; for, to passe otherwise, would have beene very dangerous to them both. And questionlesse, their faithfull promise made at Rhodes to Antiochus, sickenesse on the Sea, and mutuall respect they had of each others credit, was a constant restraint to all wanton desires, and a motive rather to incite Chastitie, then otherwise, and so (I hope) you are perswaded of them. But howsoever, the windes blewe merrily, the Carracke sayled lustily, and (by this time) they are arrived at Baffa, where the Cyprian Merchant dwelt, and where shee continued a long while with him, no one knowing otherwise, but that shee was his wife indeede. Now it fortuned, that there arrived also at the same Baffa (about some especiall occasions of his) a Gentleman whose name was Antigonus, well stept into yeeres, and better stored with wisedome then wealth: because by medling in many matters, while hee followed the service of the King of Cyprus, Fortune had beene very adverse to him. This ancient Gentleman, passing (on a day) by the house where the Lady lay, and the Merchant being gone about his bussinesse into Armenia: hee chanced to see the Lady at a window of the house, and because shee was very beautifull, he observed her the more advisedly, recollecting his sences together, that (doubtlesse) he had seene her before, but in what place hee could not remember. The Lady her selfe likewise, who had so long time beene Fortunes tennis ball, and the terme of her many miseries drawing now neere an ending: began to conceive (upon the very first sight of Antigonus) that she had formerly seene him in Alexandria, serving her Father in place of great degree. Heereupon, a sodaine hope perswaded her, that by the advice and furtherance of this Gentleman, shee should recover her wonted Royall condition: and opportunity now aptly fitting her, by the absence of her pretended Merchant-husband, shee sent for him, requesting to have a few words with him.
When he was come into the house, she bashfully demanded of him, if he was not named Antigonus of Famagosta, because she knew one like him so called? He answered that he was so named: saying moreover, Madam me thinkes I should know you, but I cannot remember where I have seene you, wherefore I would entreat (if it might stand with your good liking) that my memory might be quickned with better knowledge of you. The Lady perceiving him to be the man indeed, weeping incessantly, she threw her armes about his necke, and soone after asked Antigonus (who stood as one confounded with mervaile) if he had never seene her in Alexandria? Upon these words, Antigonus knew her immediately to be Alathiella, daughter to the great Soldane, who was supposed (long since) to be drowned in the Sea: and offering to do her such reverence as became him, she would not permit him, but desired that he would bee assistant to her, and willed him also to sit downe awhile by her.
A goodly chaire being brought him, in very humble maner he demanded of her, what had become of her in so long a time, because it was verily beleeved throughout all Egypt, that she was drowned in the Sea. I would it had bin so, answered the Lady, rather then to leade such a life as I have done; and I thinke my Father himselfe would wish it so, if ever he should come to the knowledge thereof. With these words the teares rained downe her faire cheekes: wherefore Antigonus thus spake unto hir. Madam, discomfort not your selfe before you have occasion; but (if you be so pleased) relate your passed accidents to me, and what the course of your life hath bene: perhaps, I shall give you such friendly advice as may stand you insted, and no way be injurious to you.
Fetching a sighe, even as if her heart would have split in sunder, thus she replyed.
Ah Antigonus, me thinkes when I looke on thee, I seeme to behold my royall Father, and therefore mooved with the like religious zeale and charitable love, as in duty I owe unto him: I wil make known to thee, what I rather ought to conceale and hide from any person living. I know thee to be honourable, discreete, and truely wise, though I am a fraile, simple, and weake woman, therefore I dare discover to thee, rather then any other that I know, by what strange and unexpected misfortunes I have lived so long obscurely in the world. And if in thy great and grave judgement (after the hearing of my many miseries) thou canst any way restore me to my former estate, I pray thee do it: but if thou perceive it impossible to be done, as earnestly likewise I entreate thee, never to reveale to any living person, that either thou hast seene mee, or heard any speech of me. After these words, the teares still streaming from her faire eyes, she recounted the whole passage of her rare mishappes, even from her shipwracke in the sea of Majorica, untill that very instant houre; speaking them in such harsh manner as they hapned, and not sparing any jot of them.
Antigonus being mooved to much compassion, declared how hee pitied her by his teares; and having bene silent an indifferent while, as considering in this case what was best to be done, thus he began. Madam, seeing you have past through such a multitude of misfortunes, yet undiscovered, what and who you are: I will render you as blamelesse to your Father, and estate you as fairely in his love, as at the houre when you parted from him, and afterward make you wife to the King of Colchos. Shee demanding of him, by what meanes possibly this could be accomplished, breefely he made it knowne to her, how, and in what manner he would performe it.
To cut off further tedious circumstances, forthwith he returned to Famagosta, and going before the King of the country, thus he spake to him. Sir, you may (if so you will be pleased) in an instant, do me an exceeding honor, who have bene impoverished by your service, and also a deed of great renowne to your selfe, without any much matter of expence and cost. The King demanding how? Antigonus thus answered. The faire daughter of the Soldane, so generally reported to be drowned, is arrived at Baffa, and to preserve her honor from blemishing, hath suffered many crosses and calamities: being at this instant in very poore estate, yet desirous to revisite her father. If you please to send her home under my conduct, it will be great honour to you, and no meane benefite to me: which kindnesse will for ever be thankfully remembred by the Soldan.
The King in royall magnificence, replied sodainly, that he was highly pleased with these good tydings; and having sent honorably for hir from Baffa, with great pompe she was conducted to Famagosta, and there most graciously welcommed both by the King and Queene, with solemne triumphes, bankets, and revelling, performed in most Majesticke manner. Being questioned by the King and Queene, concerning so large a time of strange misfortunes: according as Antigonus had formerly enstructed her, so did she shape the forme of her answers, and satisfied (with honor) all their demands. So, within few daies after, upon her earnest and instant request, with an honourable traine of Lords and Ladies, shee was sent thence, and conducted all the way by Antigonus, untill she came unto the Soldans Court.
After some few dayes of her reposing there, the Soldan was desirous to understand, how she could possibly live so long in any Kingdome or Province whatsoever, and yet no knowledge to be taken of her? The Lady, who perfectly retained by heart, and had all her lessons at her fingers ends, by the warie instruction which Antigonus had given her, answered her father in this manner. Sir, about the twentieth day after my departure from you, a very terrible and dreadfull tempest overtooke us, so that in dead time of the night, our ship being split in sunder upon the sands, neere to a place called Varna, what became of all the men that were aboord, I neither know, nor ever heard of. Onely I remember, then when death appeared, and I being recovered from death to life, certaine Pezants of the Countrey, comming to get what they could finde in the ship so wrackt, I was first (with two of my women) brought and set safely on the shore.No sooner were we there, but certaine rude shagge-haird villaines set upon us, carrying away from me both my women, then haling me along by the haire of my head: neither teares or intercessions could draw any pitty from them. As thus they dragd me into a spacious Wood, foure horsemen on a sodaine came riding by, who seeing how dishonourably the villaines used me, rescued me from them, and forced them to flight. But the foure horsemen, seeming (in my judgement) to bee persons of power and authority, letting them go, came to me; urging sundry questions to me, which neither I understood, or they mine answeres. After many deliberations held among themselves, setting me upon one of their horses, they brought me to a Monasterie of religious women, according to the custome of their Law: and there, whatsoever they did or sayde, I know not, but I was most benignely welcommed thither, and honoured of them extraordinarily; where (with them in Devotion) I dedicated my selfe to the Goddesse of chastity, who is highly reverenced and regarded among the women of that Countrey, and to her religious service they are wholly addicted.
After I had continued some time among them, and learned a little of their language; they asked me, of whence, and what I was. Reason gave me so much understanding, to be fearefull of telling them the trueth, for feare of expulsion from among them, as an enemy to their Law and Religion: wherefore I answered (according as necessitie urged) that I was daughter to a Gentleman of Cyprus who sent me to bee married in Candie; but our fortunes (meaning such as had the charge of me) fell out quite contrary to our expectation, by losses, shipwracke, and other mischances; adding many matters more beside, onely in regard of feare, and yeelding obediently to observe their customes.
At length, she that was in cheefest preheminence among these Women (whom they termed by the name of their Ladie Abbesse) demaunded of mee, whether I was willing to abide in that condition of life, or to returne home againe into, Cyprus. I answerd, that I desired nothing more. But shee, being very carefull of mine honour, would never repose confidence in any that came for Cyprus, till two honest Gentlemen of France who hapned thither about two moneths since, accompanied with their wives, one of them being a neere kinswoman to the Lady Abbesse. And she well knowing, that they travelled in pilgrimage to Jerusalem, to visite the holy Sepulcher, where (as they beleeve) that he whom they held for their God was buried, after the jewes had put him to death; recommended me to their loving trust, with especiall charge, for delivering mee to my Father in Cyprus. What honourable love and respect I found in the company of those Gentlemen and their Wives, during our voyage backe to Cyprus, the historie would be overtedious in reporting, neither is it much materiall to our purpose, because your demaund is to another end.
Sayling on prosperously in our Ship, it was not long before we arrived at Baga, where being landed, and not knowing any person, neither what I should say to the Gentlemen, who onely were carefull for delivering me to my Father, according as they were charged by the reverend Abbesse: it was the will of heaven doubtlesse (in pitty and compassion of my passed disasters) that I was no sooner come on shore at Baffa, but I should there haply meet with Antigonus, whom I called unto in our Country language because I would not be understood by the Gentlemen nor their wives, requesting him to acknowledge me as his daughter. Quickly he apprehended mine intention, accomplishing what requested, and (according to his poore power) most bounteously feasted the Gentlemen and their wives, conducting me to the King of Cyprus, who received me royally, and sent me home to you with so much honour, as I am no way able to relate. What else retnaineth to be said, Antigonus who hath oft heard the whole story of my misfortunes, at better leysure will report.
Antigonus then turning to the Soldan, saide: My Lord, as shee hath often told me, and by relation both of the Gentlemen and their wives, she hath delivered nothing but truth. Onely shee hath forgotten somewhat worth the speaking, as thinking it not fit for her to utter, because indeed it is not so convenient for her. Namely, how much the Gentlemen and their wives (with whom she came) commended the rare honesty and integrity of life, as also the unspotted vertue wherein shee lived among those chaste religious women, as they constantly (both with teares and solemne protestations) avouched to me, when kindly they resigned their charge to me. Of all which matters, and many more beside, if I should make discourse to your Excellencie; this whole day, the night ensuing, and the next daies full extendure, are not sufficient to acquaint you withall. Let it suffice then that I have said so much, as (both by the reports, and mine owne understanding) may give you faithfull assurance, to make your Royall vaunt, of having the fairest, most vertuous, and honest Lady to your daughter, of any King or Prince whatsoever.
The Soldane was joyfull beyond all measure, welcomming both him and the rest in most stately manner, oftentimes entreating the Gods very heartily, that he might live to requite them with equall recompence, who had so graciously honored his daughter: but above all the rest, the King of Cyprus, who sent her home so Majestically. And having bestowne great gifts on Antigonus, within a few dayes after, hee gave him leave to returne to Cyprus: with thankfull favours to the King as well by Letters, as also by Ambassadours expressely sent, both from himselfe and his Daughter.
When as this businesse was fully finished, the Soldane, desiring to accomplish what formerly was intended and begun, namely, that she might be wife to the King of Colchos; hee gave him intelligence of all that had happened; writing moreover to him, that (if he were so pleased) he wold yet send her in Royall manner to him. The King of Colchos was exceeding joyfull of these glad tydings, and dispatching a worthy traine to fetch her, she was conveyed thither very pompously, and she who had bene imbraced by so many, was received by him as an honest Virgin, living long time after with him in much joy and felicity. And therefore it hath bene saide as a common Proverbe: The mouth well kist comes not short of good Fortune, but is still renewed like the Moone.
The Ladies sighed verie often, hearing the variety of wofull miseries happening to Alathiella: but who knoweth, what occasion mooved them to those sighes? Perhappes there were some among them, who rather sighed they could not be so often maried as she was, rather then for any other compassion they had of her disasters. But leaving that to their owne construction, they smiled merrily at the last speeches of Pamphilus: and the Queene perceyving the Novell to be ended, shee fixed her eye upon Madame Eliza, as signifying thereby, that she was next to succeed in order; which shee joyfully embracing, spake as followeth.
The field is very large and spacious, wherein all this day we have walked, and there is not any one here so wearied with running the former races, but nimbly would adventure on as many more, so copious are the alterations of Fortune, in sad repetition of her wonderfull changes: and among the infinity of her various courses, I must make addition of another, which I trust, will no way discontent you.
When the Romaine Empire was translated from the French to the Germaines, mighty dissentions grew betweene both the Nations, insomuch, that it drew a dismall and a lingering warre. In which respect, as well for the safety of his owne Kingdome, as to annoy and disturbe his enemies; the King of France and one of his sonnes, having congregated the forces of their owne Dominions, as also of their friends and confederates, they resolved manfully to encounter their enemies. But before they would adventure any rash proceeding, they held it as the cheefest part of policy and royall providence, not to leave the State without a Chiefe or Governour. And having had good experience of Gualtier, Count D'Angiers, to be a wise and worthy Lord, singularly expert in military discipline and faithfull in all affaires of the Kingdome (yet fitter for ease and pleasure, then laborious toyle and travalle:) he was elected Lieutenant Governour in their sted, over the whole kingdom of France, and then they went on in their enterprize.
Now began the Count to execute the office committed to his trust, by orderly proceeding, and with great discretion, yet not entering into any businesse, without consent of the Queene and her faire daughter in Law: who although they were left under his care and custodie, yet (notwithstanding) he honoured them as his superiours, and as the dignity of their quality required. Here you are to observe, concerning Count Gualtier himselfe, that he was a most compleate person, aged litle above forty yeeres, as affable and singularly conditioned, as any Nobleman possibly could be, nor did those times affoord a Gentleman, that equalled him in all respects. It fortuned, that the King and his sonne being busy in the aforenamed war, the wife and Lady of Count Gualtier died in the mean while, leaving him onely a sonne and a daughter very yong, and of tender yeeres, which made his owne home the lesse welcom to him, having lost his deere Love, and second selfe.
Heereupon, he resorted to the Court of the said Ladies the more frequently, often conferring with them, about the waighty affaires of the Kingdome: in which time of so serious interparlance, the Kings sonnes wife, threw many affectionate regards upon him, convaying such conspiring passions to her heart (in regard of his person and vertues) that her love exceeded all capacity of governement. Her desires out-stepping al compasse of modesty, or the dignity of her Princely condition, throwes off all regard of civill and sober thoughts, and guides her into a Labyrinth of wanton imaginations. For, she regards not now the eminency of his high Authority, his gravity of yeares, and those parts that are the true conducts to honour: but lookes upon her owne loose and lascivious appetite, her young, gallant, and over-ready yeelding nature, comparing them with his want of a wife, and likely hope thereby of her sooner prevailing; supposing, that nothing could be her hindrance, but onely bashfull shamefastnesse, which she rather chose utterly to forsake and set aside, then to faile of her hot enflarned affection, and therefore she would needs be the discoverer of her owne disgrace.
Upon a day, being alone by her selfe, and the time seeming suteable to her intention: shee sent for the Count, under colour of some other important conference with him. The Count D'Aongiers, whose thoughts were quite contrary to hers: immediately went to her, where they both sitting downe together on a beds side in her Chamber, according as formerly shee had plotted her purpose; twice hee demaunded of her, upon what occasion she had thus sent for him. She sitting a long while silent, as if she had no answere to make him, pressed by the violence of her amorous passions, a Vermillion tincture leaping up into her face, yet shame enforcing teares from her eyes, with words broken and halfe confused, at last she began to deliver her minde in this manner.
Honourable Lord, and my deerely respected Friend, being so wise a man as you are, it is no difficult matter for you to know, what a frayle condition is imposed both on men and women; yet (for divers occasions) much more upon the one, then the other. Wherefore desertfully, in the censure of a just and upright judge, a fault of divers conditions (in respect of the person) ought not to bee censured with one and the same punnishment. Beside, who will not say, that a man or woman of poore and meane estate, having no other helpe for maintainance, but laborious travaile of their bodies, should worthily receive more sharpe reprehension, in yeelding to amorous desires, or such passions as are incited by love; then a wealthy Lady whose living relieth not on her pains or cares, neither wanteth any thing that she can wish to have: I dare presume, that you your selfe will allow this to be equall and just. In which respect, I am of the minde, that the fore-named allegations, ought to serve as a sufficient excuse, yea, and to the advantage of her who is so possessed, if the passions of love should over-reach her: alwayes provided, that shee can pleade in her owne defence, the choice of a wise and vertuous friend, answerable to her owne condition and quality, and no way to be taxt with a servile or vile election.
These two speciall observations, allowable in my judgement, and living now in mee, seizing on my youthfull blood and yeeres, have found no mean inducement to love, in regard of my husbands far distance from me, medling in the rude uncivill actions of warre, when he should rather be at home in more sweet imployment. You see Sir, that these Oratours advance themselves here in your presence, to acquaint you with the extremity of my over-commanding agony: and if the same power hath dominion in you, which your discretion (questionlesse) cannot be voide of; then let me entreate such advice from you, as may rather helpe, then hinder my hopes. Beleeve it then for trueth Sir, that the long absence of my husband from me, the solitary condition wherein I am left, il agreeing with the hot blood running in my veines, and the temper of my earnest desires: have so prevailed against my strongest resistances, that not onely so weake a woman as I am, but any man of much more potent might, (living in ease and idlenesse as I do) cannot withstand such continuall assaults, having no other helpe then flesh and blood.
Nor am I so ignorant, but publike knowledge of such an error in mee, would be reputed a shrewd taxation of honesty: whereas (on the other side) secret carriage, and heedfull managing such amorous affaires, may passe for currant without any reproach. And let me tel you, noble Count, that I repute love highly favourable to mee, by guiding my judgement with such moderation, to make election of a wise, worthy, and honorable friend, fit to enjoy the grace of a farre greater Lady then I am, and the first letter of his name, is the Count D'Angiers. For if error have not misled mine eye, as in love no Lady can be easily deceived: for person, perfections, and all parts most to bee commended in a man, the whole Realme of France containeth not your equall. Observe beside, how forward Fortune sheweth her selfe to us both in this case; you to bee destitute of a wife, as I am of an husband; for I account him as dead to me, when he denies me the duties belonging to a wife. Wherefore, in regard of the unfained affection I beare you, and compassion which you ought to have of a Royall Princesse, even almost sicke to death for your sake, I earnestly entreat you, not to deny mee your loving society, but pittying my youth and fiery affections (never to be quenched but by your kindnesse) I may enjoy my hearts desire.
As shee uttered these words, the teares streamed aboundantly downe her faire cheekes, preventing her of any further speech: so that dejecting her head into her bosome, overcome with the predominance of her passions, she fell upon the Counts knee, whereas else shee had falne uppon the ground. When he, like a loyall and most honourable man, sharpely reprehended her fond and idle love: And when shee would have embraced him about the necke to have kissed him; he repulsed her roughly from him, protesting upon his honourable reputation, that rather then hee would so wrong his Lord and Maister, he would endure a thousand deaths.
The Ladie seeing her desire disappointed, and her fond expectation utterly frustrated: grew instantly forgetfull of her intemperate love, and falling into extremity of rage, converted her former gentle and loving speeches, into this harsh and ruder language. Villaine (quoth she) shall the longing comforts of my life, be abridged by thy base and scornefull deniall? Shall my destruction be wrought by thy most currish unkindenesse, and all my hoped joyes be defeated in a moment? Know Slave, that I did not so earnestly desire thy sweete embracements before, but now as deadly I hate and despise them; which either thy death or banishment shall deerely pay for. No sooner had she thus spoken, but tearing her haire, and renting her garments in peeces, she ranne about like a distracted Woman, crying out alowd; Helpe, helpe, the Count D'Angiers will forcibly dishonour mee, the lustfull Count will violate mine honour.
D'Angiers seeing this, and fearing more the malice of the over-credulous Court, then either his owne Conscience, or any dishonourable act by him committed, beleeving likewise, that her slanderous accusation would be credited, above his true and spotlesse innocency: closely he conveyed himselfe out of the Court, making what hast he could, home to his owne house, which being too weake for warranting his safety upon such pursuite as would be used against him, without any further advice or counsell, he seated his two children on horsebacke, himselfe also being but meanly mounted, thus away thence he went to Calice.
Upon the clamour and noise of the Lady, the Courtiers quickly flocked thither; and, as lies soone winne beleefe in hasty opinions, upon any silly or shallow surmise: so did her accusation passe for currant, and the Counts advancement being envied by many, made his honest carriage (in this case) the more suspected. In hast and madding fury, they ran to the Counts houses, to arrest his person, and carry him to prison: but when they could not finde him, they raced his goodly buildings downe to the ground, and used all shamefull violence to them. Now, as ill newes sildome wants a speedy Messenger; so, in lesse space then you will imagine, the King and Dolphin heard thereof in the Campe,-and were therewith so highly offended, that the Count had a sodaine and severe condemnation, all his progeny being sentenced with perpetuall exile, and promises of great and bountifull rewards, to such as could bring his body alive or dead.
Thus the innocent Count, by his overhasty and sodaine flight, made himselfe guilty of this foule imputation: and arriving at Callice with his children, their poore and homely habites, hid them from being knowne, and thence they crossed over into England, staying no where untill hee came to London. Before he would enter into the City, he gave divers good advertisements to his children, but especially two precepts above all the rest. First, with patient soules to support the poore condition, whereto Fortune (without any offence in him or them) had thus dejected them. Next, that they should have most heedfull care, at no time to disclose from whence they came, or whose children they were, because it extended to the perill of their lives. His Sonne, being named Lewes, and now about nine yeares old, his Daughter called Violenta, and aged seaven yeares, did both observe their fathers direction, as afterward it did sufficiently appeare. And because they might live in the safer securitie, hee thought it for the best to change their names, calling his Sonne Perotto, and his Daughter Gianetta, for thus they might best escape unknowne.
Being entred into the City, and in the poore estate of beggars, they craved every bodies mercy and almes. It came to passe, that standing one morning at the Cathedrall Church doore, a great Lady of England being then wife to the Lord high Marshal, comming forth of the Church, espied the Count and his children there begging. Of him she demanded what Countrey-man he was? and whether those children were his owne, or no? The Count replyed, that he was borne in Piccardy, and for an unhappy fact committed by his eldest Sonne (a stripling of more hopefull expectation, then proved) hee was enforced, with those his two other children, to forsake his country. The Lady being by nature very pittifull, looking advisedly on the young Girle beganne to grow in good liking of her; because (indeede) she was amiable, gentle, and beautifull, whereupon shee saide. Honest man, thy daughter hath a pleasing countenance, and (perhaps) her inward disposition may proove answerable to her outward good parts: if therefore thou canst bee content to leave her with me, I will give her entertainment, and upon her dutifull carriage and behaviour, if she live to such yeares as may require it, I will have her honestly bestowne in marriage. This motion was very pleasing to the Count, who readily declared his willing consent thereto, and with the teares trickling downe his cheekes, in thankfull maner he delivered his pretty daughter to the Lady.
She being thus happily bestowne, he minded to tarry no longer in London; but, in his wonted begging manner, travailing thorough the Country with his sonne Perotto, at length he came into Wales: but not without much weary paine and travell, being never used before, to journey so far on foot. There dwelt another Lord, in office of Marshalship to the King of England, whose power extended over those parts: a man of very great authority, keeping a most noble and bountifull house, which they termed the President of Wales his Court; whereto the Count and his Son oftentimes resorted, as finding there good releefe and comfort. On a day, one of the Presidents sons, accompanied with divers other Gentlemens children, were performing certaine youthfull sports, and pastimes, as running, leaping, and such like, wherein Perotto presumed to make one among them, excelling all the rest in such commendable manner, as none of them came any thing nere him. Divers times the President had taken notice thereof, and was so well pleased with the Lads behaviour, that he enquired of whence he was? Answere was made, that he was a poore mans Son, that every day came for an almes to his gate.
The President being desirous to make the boy his, the Count (whose dayly prayers were to the same purpose) frankly gave his Son to the Nobleman: albeit naturall and fatherly affection, urged some unwillingnesse to part so with him; yet necessity and discretion, found it best for the benefit of them both. Being thus eased of care for his Son and Daughter, and they (though in different places) yet under good and worthy government; the Count would continue no longer in England: but, as best hee could procure the meanes, passed over into Ireland, and being arrived at a place called Stanford, became servant to an Earle of that Country, a Gentleman professing Armes, on whom he attended as a serving man, and lived a long while in that estate very painfully.His daughter Violenta, clouded under the borrowed name of Gianetta, dwelling with the Lady at London, grew so in yeares, beauty, comelinesse of person, and was so gracefull in the favour of her Lord and Lady, yea, of every one in the house beside, that it was wonderfull to behold. Such as but observed her usuall carriage, and what modesty shined clearely in her eyes, reputed her well worthy of honourable preferment; in regard, the Lady that had received her of her Father, not knowing of whence, or what shee was; but as himselfe had made report, intended to match her in honourable marriage, according as her vertues worthily deserved. But God, the just rewarder of all good endeavours, knowing her to be noble by birth, and (causelesse) to suffer for the sinnes of another; disposed otherwise of her: and that so worthy a Virgin might be no mate for a man of ill conditions, no doubt ordained what was to be done, according to his owne good pleasure. The Noble Lady, with whom poore Gianetta dwelt, had but one onely Sonne by her Husband, and he most deerely affected of them both, as well in regard he was to be their heire, as also for his vertues and commendable qualities, wherein he excelled many young Gentlemen. Endued he was with heroycall valour, compleate in all perfections of person, and his minde every way answerable to his outward behaviour, exceeding Gianetta about sixe yeeres in age. Hee perceiving her to be a faire and comely Maiden, grew to affect her so entirely, that all things else he held contemptible, and nothing pleasing in his eye but shee. Now, in regard her parentage was reputed poore, he kept his love concealed from his Parents, not daring to desire her in marriage: for loath he was to loose their favour, by disclosing the vehemency of his afflictions, which proved a greater torment to him, then if it had beene openly knowne.
It came to passe, that love over-awed him in such sort, as he fell into a violent sicknesse, and store of Physicions were sent for, to save him from death, if possibly it might be. Their judgements observing the course of his sicknesse, yet not reaching to the cause of the disease, made a doubtfull question of his recovery; which was so displeasing to his parents, that their griefe and sorrow grew beyond measure. Many earnest entreaties they moved to him, to know the occasion of his sickenesse, whereto he returned no other answere, but heart-breaking sighes, and incessant teares, which drew him more and more into weakenesse of body.
It chanced on a day, a Physicion was brought unto him, being young in yeeres, but well experienced in his practise: and as hee made triall of his pulse, Gianetta (who by his Mothers command, attended on him very diligently) upon some especiall occasion entred into the Chamber, which when the young Gentleman perceived, and that shee neither spake word, nor so much as looked towards him, his heart grew great in amorous desire, and his pulse did beate beyond the compasse of ordinary custome; whereof the Physicion made good observation, to note how long that fit would continue. No sooner was Gianetta gone forth of the Chamber, but the pulse immediately gave over beating, which perswaded the Physicion, that some part of the disease had now discovered it selfe apparantly.
Within a while after, pretending to have some speech with Gianetta, and holding the Gentleman still by the arme, the Physicion caused her to be sent for; and immediately shee came. Upon her very entrance into the Chamber, the pulse began to beate againe extreamely, and when shee departed, it presently ceased. Now was he thorowly perswaded, that he had found the true effect of his sicknesse, when taking the Father and mother aside, thus he spake to them. If you be desirous of your Sons health, it consisteth not either in Physicion or physicke, but in the mercy of your faire Maide Gianetta; for manifest signes have made it knowne to me, and he loveth the Damosell very dearely: yet (for ought I can perceive, the Maide doth not know it:) now if you have respect of his life, you know (in this case) what is to be done. The Nobleman and his Wife hearing this, became somewhat satisfied, because there remained a remedy to preserve his life: but yet it was no meane griefe to them, if it should so succeede, as they feared, namely, the marriage betweene this their Sonne and Gianetta.
The Physicion being gone, and they repairing to their sicke Sonne, the Mother began with him in this manner. Sonne, I was alwayes perswaded, that thou wouldest not conceale any secret from me, or the least part of thy desires; especially, when without enjoying them, thou must remaine in the danger of death. Full well art thou assured, or in reason oughtest to be, that there is not any thing for thy contentment, be it of what quality soever, but it should have beene provided for thee, and in as ample manner as for mine owne selfe. But though thou hast wandred so farre from duty, and hazarded both thy life and ours, it commeth so to passe, that Heaven hath beene more mercifull to thee, then thou wouldest be to thy selfe, or us. And to prevent thy dying of this disease, a dreame this night hath acquainted me with the principall occasion of thy sickenesse, to wit extraordinary affection to a young Maiden, in some such place as thou hast seene her. I tell thee Sonne, it is a matter of no disgrace to love, and why shouldst thou shame to manifest as much, it being so apt and convenient for thy youth? For if I were perswaded, that thou couldst not love, I should make the lesse esteeme of thee. Therefore deare Sonne, be not dismayed, but freely discover thine affections. Expell those disastrous drouping thoughts, that have indangered thy life by this long lingering sicknesse. And let thy soule be faithfully assured, that thou canst not require any thing to be done, remaining within the compasse of my power, but I will performe it; for I love thee as dearely as mine owne life. Set therefore aside this nice conceit of shame and feare, revealing the truth boldly to me, if I may stead thee in thy love; resolving thy selfe unfaignedly, that if my care stretch not to compasse thy content, account me for the most cruell Mother living, and utterly unworthy of such a Sonne.
The young Gentleman having heard these protestations made by his Mother, was not a little ashamed of his owne follie; but recollecting his better thoughts together, and knowing in his soule, that no one could better further his hopes, then shee; forgetting all his former feare, he returned her this answere; Madam, and my dearely affected Mother, nothing hath more occasioned my loves so strict concealement, but an especiall errour, which I finde by daily proofe in many, who being growne to yeeres of grave discretion, doe never remember, that they themselves have bin yong. But because herein I find you to be both discreet and wise, I will not onely affirme what you have seen in me to be true, but also will confesse, to whom it is: upon condition, that the effect of your promise may follow it, according to the power remaining in you, whereby you onely may secure my life.
His Mother, desirous to bee resolved, whether his confession would agree with the Physitians words, or no, and reserving another intention to her selfe: bad him feare nothing, but freely discover his whole desire, and forthwith she doubted not to effect it. Then Madame (quoth hee) the matchlesse beauty, and commendable qualities of your Maid Gianetta, to whom (as yet) I have made no motion, to commisserate this my languishing extremity, nor acquainted any living creature with my love: the concealing of these afflictions to myselfe, hath brought mee to this desperate condition: and if some meane bee not wrought, according to your constant promise, for the full enjoying of my longing desires, assure your selfe (most Noble Mother) that the date of my life is very short. The Lady well knowing, that the time now rather required kindest comfort, then any severe or sharpe reprehension, smiling on him, said: Alas deere sonne, wast thou sicke for this? Be of good cheare, and when thy strength is better restored, then referre the matter to me. The young Gentleman, being put in good hope by his Mothers promise, began (in short time) to shew apparant signes of well-forwarded amendment, to the Mothers great joy and comfort, disposing her selfe dayly to proove, how in honor she might keepe promise with her sonne.
Within a short while after, calling Gianetta privately to her, in gentle manner, and by the way of pleasant discourse, she demanded of hir, whither she was provided of a Lover, or no. Gianetta, being never acquainted with any such questions, a scarlet Dye covering all her modest countenance, thus replyed. Madam, I have no neede of any Lover, and very unseemely were it, for so poore a Damosell as I am, to have so much as a thought of Lovers, being banished from my friends and kinsfolke, and remaining in service as I do.
If you have none (answered the Ladie) wee will bestow one on you, which shall content your minde, and bring you to a more pleasing kinde of life; because it is farre unfit, that so faire a Maid as you are., should remaine destitute of a Lover. Madam, said Gianetta, considering with my selfe, that since you received me of my poore Father, you have used me rather like your daughter, then a servant; it becommeth mee to doe as pleaseth you. Notwithstanding, I trust (in the regard of mine owne good and honour) never to use any complaint in such a case: but if you please to bestow a husband on me, I purpose to love and honor him onely, and not any other. For, of all the inheritance left me by my progenitors, nothing remaineth to me but honourable honesty, and that shall be my Legacie so long as I live.
These wordes, were of a quite contrary complexion, to those which the Lady expected from her, and for effecting the promise made unto hir Sonne: howbeit (like a wise and noble Ladie) much she inwardly commended the maids answers, and said unto her. But tell me Gianetta, what if my Lord the King (who is a gallant youthfull Prince, and you so bright a beautie as you are) should take pleasure in your love, would ye denie him? Sodainly the Maide returned this answer: Madame, the King perhaps might enforce me, but with my free consent, hee shall never have any thing of me that is not honest. Nor did the Lady dislike her Maides courage and resolution, but breaking of all her further conference, intended shortly to put her project in proofe, saying to her son, that when he was fully recovered, he should have private accesse to Gianetta, whom shee doubted not but would be tractable enough to him; for she helde it no meane blemish to her honour, to moove the Maide any more in the matter, but let him compasse it as he could.
Farre from the yong Gentlemans humour was this answer of his Mother, because he aimed not at any dishonourable end: true, faithfull, and honest love was the sole scope of his intention, foule and loathsome lust he utterly defied; whereupon he fell into sickenesse againe, rather more violently then before. Which the Lady perceiving, revealed her whole intent to Gianetta, and finding her constancie beyond common comparison, acquainted her Lord with all she had done, and both consented (though much against their mindes) to let him enjoy her in honourable marriage: accounting it better, for preservation of their onely sons life, to match him farre inferiour to his degree, then by denying h desire, to let him pine and dye for her love.
After great consultation with Kindred and Friends, the match was agreed upon, to the no little joy of Gianetta, who devoutly returned infinite thankes to heaven, for so mercifully respecting her dejected poore estate, after the bitter passage of so many miseries, and never tearming her selfe any otherwise, but the daughter of a poore Piccard. Soone was the yong Gentleman recovered and married, no man alive so well contented as he, and setting downe an absolute determination, to lead a loving life with his Gianetta.
Let us now convert our lookes to Wales, to Perotto; being lefte there with the other Lord Marshall, who was the President of that Countrey. On hee grew in yeeres, choisely respected by his Lord, because hee was most comely of person, and forward to all valiant attempts: so that in Tourneyes, joustes, and other actions of Armes, his like was not to bee found in all the Island, being named onely Perotto the valiant Piccard, and so was he famed farre and neere. As God had not forgotten his Sister, so in mercy he became as mindefull of him; for, a contagious mortalitie hapning in the Country, the greater part of the people perished thereby, the rest flying thence into other partes of the Land, whereby the whole Province became dispeopled and desolate.
In the time of this plague and dreadful visitation, the Lord President, his Lady, Sonnes, Daughters, Brothers, Nephewes, and Kindred dyed, none remaining alive, but one onely Daughter marriageable, a few of the houshold servants, beside Perotto, whom (after the sickenesse was more mildly asswaged) with counsell and consent of the Countrey people, the young Lady accepted to be her husband, because hee was a man so worthy and valiant; and of all the inheritance left by her deceased Father, she made him Lord, and sole commander. Within no long while after, the King of England understanding that his President of Wales was dead, and Fame liberally relating the vertues, valour, and good parts of Perotto the Piccard, hee created him President thereof, and to supply the place of his deceased Lord. These faire fortunes, within the compasse of so short a time, fell to the two innocent children of the Count D'Angiers after they were left by him as lost and forlorne.
Eighteene yeeres were now fully overpast, since the Count D'Angiers fled from Paris, having suffered (in miserable sort) many hard and lamentable adversities; and seeing himselfe now to be growne aged, hee was desirous to leave Ireland, and to know (if hee might) what was become of both his Children. Heereupon, perceiving his wonted forme to be so altered, that such as formerly had conversed most with him, could now not take any knowledge of him, and feeling his body (through long labour and exercise endured in service) more lustie then in his idle youthfull yeeres, especially when he left the Court of France, hee purposed to proceede in his determination. Being verie poore and simple in apparrel, he departed from the Irish Earle his Master, with whom he had continued long in service, to no advantage or advancement, and crossing over into England, travayled to the place in Wales, where he left Perotto, and where he found him to be Lord Marshall and President of the country, lusty and in good health, a man of goodly feature, and most honorably respected and reverenced of the people.
Well may you imagine, that this was no small comfort to the poore aged Countes heart, yet would he not make himselfe knowne to him, or any other about him, but referred his joy to a further enlarging and diminishing, by sight of the other limbe of his life, his deerely affected daughter Gianetta, denying rest to his bodie in any place, until such time as he came to London. Making there secret enquiry concerning the Ladie with whom hee had left his daughter; hee understoode, that a young Gentlewoman, named Gianetta, was married to that Ladies onely Son, which made a second addition of joy to his soule, accounting all his passed adversities of no valew, both his children being living, and in so high honour.
Having found her dwelling, and (like a kinde Father) being earnestly desirous to see her; he dayly resorted nere to the house, where Sir Roger Mandevile (for so was Gianettaes husband named) chauncing to see him, being moved to compassion, because he was both poore and aged: commaunded one of his men, to take him into the house, and to give him some foode for Gods sake, which (accordingly) the servant performed. Gianetta had divers children by her husband, the eldest being but eight yeeres of age, yet all of them so faire and comely as could be. As the old Count sate eating his meate in the Hall, the children came all about him, embracing, hugging, and making much of him, even as if Nature had truly instructed them, that this was their aged (though poor) Grandfather, and hee as lovingly receiving these kilde relations from them, wisely and silently kept all to himselfe, with sighes, teares, and joyes intermixed together. Insomuch that the children would not part from him though their Tutor and Master called them often, which being tolde to their Mother, shee came foorth of the neere adjoyning Parlour, and threatned to beate them, if they would not doe what their Maister commanded them.
Then the Children began to cry, saying; that they would tarrie stil by the good olde man, because he loved them better then their Master did; whereat both the Lady and the Count began to smile. The Count, a poore Begger, and not as Father to so great a Lady, arose, and did her humble reverence, because she was now a Noble Woman, conceyving wonderfull joy in his soule, to see her so faire and goodly a creature: yet could she take no knowledge of him, Age, want, and misery had so mightily altered him; his head all white, his beard without any comly forme, his Garments so poore, and his face so wrinkled, leane and meager, that he seemed rather some Carter, then a Count. And Gianetta perceiving that when her Children were fetcht away, they returned againe to the olde man, and would not leave him, she desired their Maister to let them alone. While thus the Children continued making much of the good olde man, Lord Andrew Mandevile, Father to Sir Roger, came into the Hall, as being so willed to doe by the Childrens Schoolemaster. He being a hastie-minded man, and one that ever-despised Gianetta before, but much more since her marriage to his sonne, angerly said; Let them alone with a mischeefe, and so befall them, their best company ought to bee with beggers, for so they are bred and borne by the Mothers side: and therefore it is no mervaile, if like will to like, a beggers brats to keepe company with beggers. The Count hearing these contemptible wordes, was not a little greeved thereat; and although his courage was greater then his poore condition would permit him to expresse; yet, clouding all injuries with noble patience, hanging downe his head, and shedding many a salt teare, endured this reproach, as hee had done many, both before and after.
But honourable Sir Roger, perceiving what delight his Children tooke in the poore mans company; albeit he was offended at his Fathers harsh words, by holding his wife in such base respect: yet favoured the poore Count so much the more, and seeing him weepe, did greatly compassionate his case, saying to the poore man, that if he would accept of his service, he willingly would entertaine him. Whereto the Count replyed, that very gladly he would embrace his kinde offer: but he was capeable of no other service, save onely to be an horsekeeper, wherein he had imployed the most part of his time. Heereupon, more for pleasure and pitty then any necessity of his service, he was appointed to the keeping of an Horse, which was onely for his Daughters saddle, and daily after he had done his diligence about the Horse, he did nothing else but play with the children. While Fortune pleased thus to dally with the poore Count D'Angiers, and his children, it came to passe, that the King of France (after divers leagues of truces passed betweene him and the Germaines) died, and next after him, his Son the Dolphin was crowned King, and it was his wife that wrongfully caused the Counts banishment. After expiration of the last league with the Germains, the warres began to grow much more fierce and sharpe, and the King of England, (upon request made to him by his new brother of France) sent him very honourable supplies of his people, under the conduct of Perotto, his lately elected President of Wales, and Sir Roger Mandevile, Son to his other Lord high Marshall; with whom also the poore Count went, and continued a long while in the Campe as a common Souldier, where yet like a valiant Gentleman (as indeed he was no lesse) both in advice and actions; he accomplished many more notable matters, then was expected to come from him.
It so fell out, that in the continuance of this warre, the Queene of France fell into a grievous sicknesse, and perceiving her selfe to be at the point of death, shee became very penitently sorrowfull for all her sinnes, earnestly desiring that shee might be confessed by the Archbishop of Roane, who was reputed to be an holy and vercuous man. In the repetition of her other offences; she revealed what great wrong she had done to the Count D'Angiers, resting not so satisfied, with disclosing the whole matter to him alone; but also confessed the same before many other worthy persons, and of great honour, entreating them to worke so with the King, that (if the Count were yet living, or any of his Children) they might be restored to their former honour againe.
It was not long after, but the Queene left this life, and was most royally enterred, when her confession being disclosed to the King, after much sorrow for so injuriously wronging a man of so great valour and honour: Proclamation was made throughout the Campe, and in many other parts of France beside, that whosoever could produce the Count D'Angiers, or any of his Children, should richly be rewarded for each one of them; in regard he was innocent of the foule imputation, by the Queenes owne confession, and for his wrongfull exile so long, he should be exalted to his former honour with farre greater favours, which the King franckely would bestow upon him. When the Count (who walked up and downe in the habite of a common servitor) heard this Proclamation, forth-with hee went to his Master Sir Roger Mandevile, requesting his speedy repaire to Lord Perotto, that being both assembled together, he would acquaint them with a serious matter, concerning the late Proclamation published by the King. Being by themselves alone in the Tent, the Count spake in this manner to Perotto. Sir, S. Roger Mandevile here, your equall competitor in this military service, is the husband to your naturall sister, having as yet never received any dowry with her, but her inherent unblemishable vertue and honor. Now because she may not stil remain destitute of a competent Dowry: I desire that Sir Roger, and none other, may enjoy the royall reward promised by the King. You Lord Perotto, whose true name is Lewes, manifest your selfe to be nobly borne, and Sonne to the wrongfull banished Count D'Angiers: avouch moreover, that Violenta, shadowed under the borrowed name of Gianetta, is your owne Sister; and deliver me up as your Father, the long exiled Count D'Angiers. Perotto hearing this, beheld him more advisedly, and began to know him: then, the tears flowing abundantly from his eyes, he fell at his feete, and often embracing him, saide: My deere and noble Father! a thousand times more deerely welcome to your Sonne Lewes.
Sir Roger Mandevile, hearing first what the Count had saide, and seeing what Perotto afterward performed; became surprized with such extraordinary joy and admiration, that he knew not how to carry himselfe in this case. Neverthelesse, giving credite to his words, and being somewhat ashamed, that he had not used the Count in more respective manner, and remembring beside, the unkinde language of his furious Father to him: he kneeled downe, humbly craving pardon, both for his Fathers rudenes and his owne, which was courteously granted by the Count, embracing him lovingly in his armes.
When they had a while discoursed their severall fortunes, sometime in teares, and then againe in joy; Perotto and Sir Roger, would have the Count to be garmented in better manner, but in no wise he would suffer it; for it was his onely desire, that Sir Roger should bee assured of the promised reward, by presenting him in the Kings presence, and in the homely habit which he did weare, to touch him with the more sensible shame, for his rash beleefe, and injurious proceeding. Then Sir Roger Mandevile, guiding the Count by the hand, and Perotto following after, came before the King, offering to present the Count and his children, if the reward promised in the Proclamation might be performed. The King immediately commanded, that a reward of inestimable valew should be produced; desiring Sir Roger upon the sight thereof, to make good his offer, for forthwith presenting the Count and his children. Which hee made no longer delay of, but turning himselfe about, delivered the aged Count, by the title of his servant, and presenting Perotto next, saide. Sir, heere I deliver you the Father and his Son, his Daughter who is my wife, cannot so conveniently be here now, but shortly, by the permission of heaven, your Majesty shall have a sight of her.
When the King heard this, stedfastly he looked on the Count; and, notwithstanding his wonderfull alteration, both from his wonted feature and forme: yet, after he had very seriously viewed him, he knew him perfectly; and the teares trickling downe his cheekes partly with remorsefull shame, and joy also for his so happy recovery, he tooke up the Count from kneeling, kissing, and embracing him very kindely, welcomming Perotto in the selfe same manner. Immediately also he gave commaund, that the Count should be restored to his honors, apparell, servants, horses, and furniture, answerable to his high estate and calling, which was as speedily performed. Moreover, the Kin greatly honoured Sir Roger Mandevile, desiring to be made acquainted with all their passed fortunes.
When Sir Roger had received the royall reward, for thus surrendering the Count and his Sonne, the Count calling him to him, saide. Take that Princely remuneration of my soveraigne Lord and King, and commending me to your unkinde Father, tell him that your Children are no beggars brats, neither basely borne by their Mothers side. Sir Roger returning home with his bountifull reward, soone after brought his Wife and Mother to Paris, and so did Perotto his Wife where in great joy and triumph, they continued with while with the noble Count; who had all his goods and honours restored to him, in farre greater measure then ever they were before: his Sonnes in Law returning home with their Wives into England, left the Count with the King at Paris, where he spent the rest of his dayes in great honour and felicity.
Madam Eliza having ended her compassionate discourse, which indeede had moved all the rest to sighing; the Queene, who was faire, comely of stature, and tarrying a very majesticall countenance, smiling more familarly then the other, spake to them thus. It is very necessary, that the promise made to Dioneus, should carefully be kept, and because now there remaineth none, to report any more Novels, but onely he and my selfe: I must first deliver mine, and he (who takes it for an honour) to be the last in relating his owne, last let him be for his owne deliverance. Then pausing a little while, thus she began againe.
Many times among vulgar people, it hath passed as a common Proverbe: That the deceiver is often trampled on, by such as he hath deceived. And this cannot shew it selfe (by any reason) to be true, except such accidents as awaite on treachery, doe really make a just discovery thereof. And therefore according to the course of this day observed, I am the woman that must make good what I have saide for the approbation of that Proverbe: no way (I hope) distastfull to you in the hearing, but advantageable to preserve you from any such beguiling.
There was a faire and goodly Inne in Paris, much frequented by many great Italian Merchants, according to such variety of occasions and businesse, as urged their often resorting thither. One night among many other, having had a merry Supper together, they began to discourse on divers matters, and falling from one relation to another; they communed in very friendly manner, concerning their wives, lefte at home in their houses. Quoth the first, I cannot well imagine what my wife is now doing, but I am able to say for my selfe, that if a pretty female should fall into my company: I could easily forget my love to my wife, and make use of such an advantage offered.
A second replyed; And trust me, I should do no lesse, because I am perswaded, that if my wife be willing to wander, the law is in her owne hand, and I am farre enough from home: dumbe walles blab no tales, and offences unknowne are sildome or never called in question. A third man unapt in censure, with his former fellowes of the Jury; and it plainely appeared, that all the rest were of the same opinion, condemning their wives over-rashly, and alledging, that when husbands strayed so far from home, their wives had wit enough to make use of their time.
Onely one man among them all, named Bernardo Lomellino, and dwelling in Geneway, maintained the contrary; boldly avouching, that by the especiall favour of Fortune, he had a wife so perfectly compleate in all graces and vertues, as any Lady in the world possibly could be, and that Italy scarsely contained her equall. But, she was goodly of person, and yet very young, quicke, quaint, milde, and courteous, and not any thing appertaining to the office of a wife, either for domesticke affayres, or any other imployment whatsoever, but in womanhoode shee went beyond all other. No Lord, Knight, Esquire, or Gentleman, could bee better served at his Table, then himselfe dayly was, with more wisedome, modesty and discretion. After all this, hee praised her for riding, hawking, hunting, fishing, fowling, reading, writing, enditing, and most absolute keeping his Bookes of accounts, that neither himselfe, or any other Merchant could therein excell her. After infinite other commendations, he came to the former point of their argument, concerning the easie falling of women into wantonnesse, maintaining (with a solemne oath) that no woman possibly could be more chaste and honest then she: in which respect, he was verily perswaded, that if he stayed from her ten years space (yea all his life time) out of his house; yet never would shee falsifie her faith to him, or be lewdly allured by any other man.
Amongst these Merchants thus communing together, there was a young proper man, named Ambroginolo of Placentia, who began to laugh at the last prayses which Bernardo had used of his Wife, and seeming to make a mockerie thereof, demaunded, if the Emperour had given him this priviledge, above all other married men? Bernardo being somewhat offended, answered: No Emperour hath done it, but the especiall blessing of heaven, exceeding all the Emperours on the earth in grace, and thereby have received this favour; whereto Ambroginolo presently thus replyed. Bernardo, without all question to the contrary, I beleeve that what thou hast said, is true; but (for ought I can perceive) thou hast slender judgement in the Nature of things: because, if thou diddst observe them well, thou couldst not be of so grosse understanding. For, by comprehending matters in their true kinde and nature, thou wouldst speake of them more correctly then thou doest. And to the end, thou mayest not imagine, that we who have spoken of our Wives, doe thinke any otherwise of them, then as well and honestly as thou canst of thine, nor that any thing else did urge these speeches of them, or falling into this kinde of discourse, but onely by a naturall instinct and admonition, I wil proceede familiarly, a little further with thee, uppon the matter alreadie propounded. I have evermore understoode, that man was the most noble creature, formed by God to live in this World, and woman in the next degree to him: but man, as generally is beleeved, and as is discerned by apparant effects is the most perfect of both. Having then the most perfection in him, without all doubt, he must be so much the more firme and constant. So in like manner, it hath beene, and is universally graunted, that Woman is more various and mutable, may be approved by and the reason thereof may be approved by many naturall circumstances, which were needlesse now to make any mention of. If a man then be possessed of the greater stability, and yet cannot containe himselfe from condiscending, I say not to one that entreates him, but to desire any other that please him; and beside, to covet the enjoying of his owne pleasing contentment (a thing not chancing to him once in a moneth, but infinite times in a dayes space). What can you then conceive of a fraile Woman, subject (by nature) to entreaties, flatteries, giftes, perswasions, and a thousand other inticing meanes, which a man (that is affected to her) can use? Doest thou thinke then that she hath any power to containe? Assuredly, though thou shouldest rest so resolved, yet cannot I be of the same opinion. For I am sure thou beleevest, and must needes confesse it, that thy wife is a Woman, made of flesh and blood, as other women are: if it be so, she cannot bee without the same desires, and the weaknesse or strength as other women have, to resist naturall appetites as her owne are. In regard whereof, it is meerely impossible (although she be most honest) but she must needs doe that which other Women doe: for there is nothing else possible, either to be denied or affirmed to the contrary, as thou most unadvisedly hast done.
Bernardo answered in this manner. I am a Merchant, and no Philosopher, and like a Merchant I meane to answer thee. I am not to learne, that these accidents by thee related, may happen to fooles, who are voide of understanding or shame: but such as are wise, and endued with vertue, have alwayes such a precious esteeme of their honour, that they wil containe those principles of constancie, which men are meerely carelesse of, and I justifie my wife to be one of them. Beleeve me Bernardo, replyed Ambroginolo, if so often as thy wives minde is addicted to wanton folly, a badge of scorne should arise on thy forehead, to render testimony of hir female frailty, I beleeve the number of them would be more, then willingly you would wish them to be. And among all married men in every degree, the notes are so secret of their wives imperfections, that the sharpest sight is not able to discerne them: and the wiser sort of men are willing not to know them; because shame and losse of honour is never imposed, but in cases evident and apparant.
Perswade thy selfe then Bernardo, that what women may accomplish in secret, they will rarely faile to doe: or if they abstaine, it is through feare and folly. Wherefore, hold it for a certaine rule, that that is onely chaste, that never was solicited personally, or if she endured any such suite, either shee answered yea, or no. And albeit I know this to be true, by many infallible and naturall reasons, yet could I not speak so exactly as I doe, if I had not tried experimentally, the humours and affections of divers Women. Yea, and let me tell thee more Bernardo, were I in private company with thy wife, howsoever thou presumest to thinke her to be, I should account it a matter of no impossibility, to finde in her the selfesame frailty.
Bernardoes blood now began to boyle, and patience being a little put downe by choller, thus he replyed. A combat of words requires over-long continuance; for I maintaine the matter which thou deniest, and all this sorts to nothing in the end. But seeing thou presumest, that all women are so apt and tractable, and thy selfe so confident of thine owne power: I willingly yeeld (for the better assurance of my wifes constant loyalty) to have my head smitten off, if thou canst winne her to any such dishonest act, by any meanes whatsoever thou canst use unto her; which if thou canst not doe, thou shalt onely loose a thousand duckets of Gold. Now began Ambroginolo to be heated with these words, answering thus. Bernardo, if I had won the wager, I know not what I should doe with thy head; but if thou be willing to stand upon the proofe, pawne downe five thousand Duckets of gold, (a matter of much lesse value then thy head) against a thousand Duckets of mine, granting me a lawfull limited time, which I require to be no more then the space of three moneths, after the day of my departing hence. I will stand bound to goe for Geneway, and there winne such kinde consent of thy Wife, as shall be to mine owne content. In witnesse whereof, I will bring backe with me such private and especiall tokens, as thou thy selfe shalt confesse that I have not failed. Provided, that thou doe first promise upon thy faith, to absent thy selfe thence during my limitted time, and be no hinderance to me by thy Letters, concerning the attempt by me undertaken.
Bernardo saide, Be it a bargaine, am the man that will make good my five thousand Duckets; and albeit the other Merchants then present, earnestly laboured to breake the wager, knowing great harme must needs ensue thereon: yet both the parties were so hot and fiery, as all the other men spake to no effect, but writings was made, sealed, and delivered under either of their hands, Bernardo remaining at Paris, and Ambroginolo departing for Geneway. There he remained some few dayes, to learne the streetes name where Bernardo dwelt, as also the conditions and qualities of his Wife, which scarcely pleased him when he heard them; because they were farre beyond her Husbands relation, and shee reputed to be the onely wonder of women; whereby he plainely perceived, that he had undertaken a very idle enterprise, yet would he not give it over so, but proceeded therein a little further.
He wrought such meanes, that he came acquainted with a poore woman, who often frequented Bernardoes house, and was greatly in favour with his wife; upon whose poverty he so prevailed, by earnest perswasions, but much more by large gifts of money, that he won her to further him in this manner following. A faire and artificiall Chest he caused to be purposely made, wherein himselfe might be aptly contained, and so conveyed into the House of Bernardoes Wife, under colour of a formall excuse; that the poore woman should be absent from the City two or three dayes, and shee must keepe it safe till she returne. The Gentlewoman suspecting no guile, but that the Chest was the receptacle of all the womans wealth; would trust it in no other roome, then her owne Bed-chamber, which was the place where Ambroginolo most desired to bee.
Being thus conveyed into the Chamber, the night going on apace, and the Gentlewoman fast asleepe in her bed, a lighted Taper stood burning on the Table by her, as in her Husbands absence shee ever used to have: Ambroginolo softly opened the Chest, according as cunningly hee had contrived it, and stepping forth in his sockes made of cloath, observed the scituation of the Chamber, the paintings, pictures, and beautifull hangings, with all things else that were remarkable, which perfectly he committed to his memory. Going neere to the bed, he saw her lie there sweetly sleeping, and her young Daughter in like manner by her, she seeming then as compleate and pleasing a creature, as when shee was attired in her best bravery. No especiall note or marke could hee descrie, whereof he might make credible report, but onely a small wart upon her left pappe, with some few haires growing thereon, appearing to be as yellow as gold.
Sufficient had he seene, and durst presume no further; but taking one of her Rings, which lay upon the Table, a purse of hers, hanging by on the wall, a light wearing Robe of silke, and her girdle, all which he put into the Chest; and being in himselfe, closed it fast as it was before, so continuing there in the Chamber two severall nights, the Gentlewoman neither mistrusting or missing any thing. The third day being come, the poore woman, according as formerly was concluded, came to have home her Chest againe, and brought it safely into her owne house; where Ambroginolo comming forth of it, satisfied the poore woman to her owne liking, returning (with all the forenamed things) so fast as conveniently he could to Paris.
Being arrived there long before his limmitted time, he called the Merchants together, who were present at the passed words and wager; avouching before Bernardo, that he had won his five thousand Duckets, and performed the taske he undertooke. To make good his protestation, first he described the forme of the Chamber, the curious pictures hanging about it, in what manner the bed stood, and every circumstance else beside. Next he shewed the severall things, which he brought away thence with him, affirming that he had received them of her selfe. Bernardo confessed, that his description of the Chamber was true, and acknowledged moreover, that these other things did belong to his Wife: But (quoth he) this may be gotten, by corrupting some servant of mine, both for intelligence of the Chamber, as also of the Ring, Purse, and what else is beside; all which suffice not to win the wager, without some other more apparant and pregnant token. In troth, answered Ambroginolo, me thinkes these should serve for sufficient proofes; but seeing thou art so desirous to know more: I plainely tell thee, that faire Genevra thy Wife, hath a small round wart upon her left pappe, and some few little golden haires growing thereon.
When Bernardo heard these words, they were as so many stabs to his heart, yea, beyond all compasse of patient sufferance, and by the changing of his colour, it was noted manifestly, (being unable to utter one word) that Ambroginolo had spoken nothing but the truth. Within a while after, he saide; Gentlemen, that which Ambroginolo hath saide, is very true, wherefore let him come when he will, and he shall be paide; which accordingly he performed on the very next day, even to the utmost penny, departing then from Paris towards Geneway, with a most malitious intention to his Wife: Being come neere to the City, he would not enter it, but rode to a Country house of his, standing about tenne miles distant thence. Being there arrived, he called a servant, in whom hee reposed especiall trust, sending him to Geneway with two Horses, writing to his Wife, that he was returned, and shee should come thither to see him. But secretly he charged his servant, that so soone as he had brought her to a convenient place, he should there kill her, without any pitty or compassion, and then returne to him againe.
When the servant was come to Geneway, and had delivered his Letter and message, Genevra gave him most joyfull welcome, and on the morrow morning mounting on Horse-backe with the servant, rode merrily towards the Country house; divers things shee discoursed on by the way, till they descended into a deepe solitary valey, very thickly beset with high and huge spreading Trees, which the servant supposed to be a meete place, for the execution of his Masters command. Suddenly drawing forth his Sword, and holding Genevra fast by the arme, he saide; Mistresse, quickly commend your soule to God, for you must die, before you passe any further. Genevra seeing the naked Sword, and hearing the words so peremptorily delivered, fearefully answered; Alas deare friend, mercy for Gods sake; and before thou kill me, tell me wherein I have offended thee, and why thou must kill me? Alas good Mistresse replied the servant, you have not any way offended me, but in what occasion you have displeased your Husband, it is utterly unknowne to me: for he hath strictly commanded me, without respect of pitty or compassion, to kill you by the way as I bring you, and if I doe it not, he hath sworne to hang me by the necke. You know good Mistresse, how much I stand obliged to him, and how impossible it is for me, to contradict any thing that he commandeth. God is my witnesse, that I am truly compassionate of you, and yet (by no meanes) may I let you live.
Genevra kneeling before him weeping, wringing her hands, thus replyed. Wilt thou turne Monster, and be a murtherer of her that never wronged thee, to please another man, and on a bare command? God, who truly knoweth all things, is my faithfull witnesse, that I never committed any offence, whereby to deserve the dislike of my Husband, much lesse so harsh a recompence as this is. But flying from mine owne justification, and appealing to thy manly mercy, thou mayest (wert thou but so well pleased) in a moment satisfie both thy Master and me, in such manner as I will make plaine and apparant to thee. Take thou my garments, spare me onely thy doublet, and such a Bonnet as is fitting for a man, so returne with my habite to thy Master, assuring him, that the deede is done. And here I sweare to thee, by that life which I enjoy but by thy mercy, I will so strangely disguise my selfe, and wander so far off from these Countries, as neither he or thou, nor any person belonging to these parts, shall ever heare any tydings of me.
The servant, who had no great good will to kill her, very easily grew pittifull, tooke off her upper garments, and gave her a poore ragged doublet, a sillie Chapperone, and such small store of money as he had, desiring her to forsake that Country, and so left her to walke on foote out of the valley. When he came to his Maister, and had delivered him her garments, he assured him, that he had not onely accomplished his commaund, but also was most secure from any discovery: because he had no sooner done the deede, but foure or five very ravenous Woolves, came presently running to the dead bodie, and gave it buriall in their bellyes. Bernardo soone after returning to Geneway, was much blamed for such unkinde cruelty to his wife; but his constant avouching of her treason to him (according then to the Countries custome) did cleare him from all pursuite of Law.
Poor Genevra was left thus alone and disconsolate, and night stealing fast upon her, shee went to a silly village neere adjoyning, where (by the meanes of a good olde woman) she got such provision as the place afforded, making the doublet fit to her body, and converting her petticoate to a paire of breeches, according to the Mariners fashion: then cutting her haire, and quaintly disguised like unto a Saylor, she went to the Sea coast. By good fortune, she met there with a Gentleman of Cathalogna, whose name was Signior Enchararcho, who came on land from his Ship, which lay hulling there about Albagia, to refresh himselfe at a pleasant Spring. Enchararcho taking her to be a man, as shee appeared no otherwise by her habite; upon some conference passing betweene them, shee was entertayned into his service, and being brought aboord the Ship, she went under the name of Sicurano da Finale. There shee had better apparrell bestowne on her by the Gentleman, and her service proved so pleasing and acceptable to him, that hee liked her care and diligence beyond all comparison.
It came to passe within a short while after, that this Gentleman of Cathalogna sayled (with some charge of his) into Alexandria, carrying thither certaine Faulcons, which he presented to the Soldan, who oftentimes welcommed this Gentleman to his table, where he observed the behaviour of Sicurano, attending on his Maisters Trencher, and therewith was so highly pleased; that hee requested to have him from the Gentleman, who (for his more advancement) willingly parted with his so lately entertained servant. Sicurano was so ready and discreet in his daily services, that he grew in as great grace with the Soldan, as before hee had done with Enchararcho.
At a certaine season in the yeare, as customary order (there observed) had formerly beene, in the City of Acres which was under the Soldanes subjection, there yeerely met a great assembly of Merchants, as Christians, Moores, jewes, Sarazens, and many other Nations besides, as at a common Mart or Fayre. And to the end, that the Merchants (for the better sale of their goods) might be there in the safer assurance, the Soldane used to send thither some of his ordinarie Officers, and a strong guard of Souldiers beside, to defend them from all injuries and molestation, because he reaped thereby no meane benefit. And who should be now sent about this businesse, but his new elected favourite Sicurano, because she was skilfull and. perfect in the Languages.
Sicurano being come to Acres, as Lord and Captaine of the Guard for the Merchants, and for the safety of their Merchandizes, she discharged her office most commendably, walking with her traine thorough every part of the Fayre, where she observed a worthy company of Merchants, Sicilians, Pisans, Genewayes, Venetians, and other Italians, whom the more willingly she noted, in remembrance of her native Country. At one especiall time among other, chancing into a Shop or Booth belonging to the Venetians, she espied (hanging up with other costly wares) a Purse and a Girdle, which sodainly she remembred to be sometime her owne; whereat she was not a little abashed in her minde. But without making any such outward shew, courteously she requested to know whose they were, and whether they should be sold, or no.
Ambroginolo of Placentia, was likewise come thither, and great store of Merchandizes hee had brought with him, in a Carracke appertaining to the Venetians, and hee hearing the Captaine of the Guard demaund whose they were, stepped foorth before him, and smiling, answered: That they were his, but not to be solde; yet if hee liked them, gladly he would bestow them on him. Sicurano seeing him smile, suspected least himselfe had (by some unfitting behaviour) beene the occasion thereof: and therefore, with a more setled countenance, hee said: Perhaps thou smilest, because I that am a man, professing Armes, should question after such womanish toyes. Ambroginolo replyed, My Lord, pardon mee, I smile not at you, or at your demaund, but at the manner how I came by these things.
Sicurano, upon this answere, was ten times more desirous then before, and saide: If Fortune favoured thee in friendly maner, by the obtaining of these things: if it may be spoken, tell mee how thou hadst them. My Lord (answered Ambroginolo) these things (with many more besides) were given me by a Gentlewoman of Geneway, named Madam Genevra, the wife to one Bernardo Lomellino, in recompence of one nights lodging with her, and she desired me to keepe them for her sake. Now, the maine reason of my smiling, was the remembrance of her husbands folly, in waging five thousand Duckets of Gold, against one thousand of mine, that I should not obtaine my will of his Wife; which I did, and thereby won the wager. But hee, who better deserved to be punished for his folly, then shee, who was but sicke of all womens disease; returning from Paris to Geneway, caused her to be slaine, as afterward it was reported by himselfe.
When Sicurano heard this horrible lye, immediately shee conceived, that this was the occasion of her husbands hatred to her, and all the hard haps which she had since suffered: whereupon, shee reputed it for more then a mortall sinne, if such a villaine should passe without due punishment. Sicurano seemed to like well this report, and grew into such familiarity with Ambroginolo, that (by her perswasions) when the Fayre was ended, she tooke him higher with her into Alexandria, and all his Wares along with him, furnishing him with a fit and convenient shop, where he made great benefite of his Merchandizes, trusting all his monies in the Captaines custody, because it was the safest course for him, and so hee continued there with no meane contentment.
Much did shee pitty her Husbands perplexity, devising by what good and warrantable meanes she might make knowne her innocency to him; wherein her place and authority did greatly sted her, and she wrought with divers gallant Merchants of Geneway that then remained in Alexandria, and by vertue of the Soldans friendly letters beside, to bring him thither upon an lall occasion. Come he did, albeit in especiall in poore and meane order, which soone was better altered by her appointment, and he verie honourably (though in private) entertained by divers of her woorthie friends, till time did favour what she further intended.
In the expectation of Bernardoes arrivall, shee had so prevayled with Ambrogiriolo, that the same tale which he formerly told to her, he delivered againe in presence of the Soldan, who seemed to be wel pleased with it. But after shee had once seene her Husband, shee thought upon her more serious businesse; providing her selfe of an apt opportunity, when shee entreated such favour of the Soldan, that both the men might bee brought before him; where if Ambroginolo would not confesse (without constraint) that which he had made his vaunt of concerning Bernardoes wife, he might be compelled thereto perforce. Sicuranoes word was a Law with the Soldane, so that Ambroginolo and Bernardo being brought face to face, the Soldane with a sterne and angry countenance, in the presence of a most Princely Assembly, commanded Ambroginolo to declare the truth, upon perill of his life, by what meanes he won the Wager of the five thousand Golden Duckets he received of Bernardo. Ambroginolo seeing Sicurano there present, upon whose favour he wholly relyed, yet perceiving her lookes likewise to be as dreadful as the Soldans, and hearing her threaten him with most greevous torments except he revealed the truth indeed; you may easily guesse in what condition he stood at that instant.<
Frownes and fury he beheld on either side, and Bernardo standing before him, with a world of famous witnesses, to heare his lye confounded by his owne confession, and his tongue to denie what it had before so constantly avouched. Yet dreaming on no other pain or penalty, but restoring backe the five thousand Duckets of gold, and the other things by him purloyned, truly he revealed the whole forme of his falshood. Then Sicurano according as the Soldane had formerly commanded him, turning to Bernardo, saide. And thou, upon the suggestion of this foule lye, what didst thou to thy Wife? Being (quoth Bernardo) overcome with for the losse of my money, and the dishonor I supposed to receive by my Wife; I caused a servant of mine to kill her, and as hee credibly avouched, her body was devoured by ravenous Wolves in a moment after.
These things being thus spoken and heard, in the presence of the Soldan, and no reason (as yet) made knowne, why the case was so seriously urged, and to what end it would succeede: Sicurano spake in this manner to the Soldane. My gracious Lord, you may plainly perceive, in what degree that poore Gentlewoman might make her vaunt, beeing so well provided, both of a loving friend, and a husband. Such was the friends love, that in an instant, and by a wicked lye, hee robbed her both of her renowne and honour, and bereft her also of her husband. And her husband, rather crediting anothers falshoode, then the invincible trueth, whereof he had faithfull knowledge, by long and very honorable experience; caused her to be slaine, and made foode for devouring Wolves. Beside all this, such was the good will and affection borne to that Woman both by friend and husband, that the longest continuer of them in her company, makes them alike in knowledge of her. But because your great wisedom knoweth perfectly what each of them have worthily deserved: if you please (in your ever-knowne gracious benignity) to permit the punishment of the deceiver, and pardon the partie so diceyved; I will procure such meanes, that she shall appeare here in your presence, and theirs.
The Soldane, being desirous to give Sicurano all manner of satisfaction, having followed the course so indistriously, bad him to produce the Woman, and hee was well contented. Whereat Bernardo stoode much amazed, because he verity beleeved that she was dead. And Ambroginolo foreseeing already a preparation for punishment, feared, that the repayment of the money would not now serve his turne: not knowing also, what he should further hope or suspect, if the woman her selfe did personally appeare, which hee imagined would be a miracle. Sicurano having thus obtained the Soldanes permission, teares, humbling her selfe at his feete, in a moment she lost her manly voyce and demeanour, as knowing that she was now no longer to use them, but must truly witnesse what she was indeed, and therefore thus spake.
Great Soldane, I am the miserable and unfortunate Genevra, that for the space of sixe whole yeeres, have wandered through the world, in the habite of a man, falsely and most maliciously slaundered, by this villainous Traytor Ambroginolo, and by this unkinde cruell husband, betraied to his servant to be slaine, and left to be devoured by savage beasts. Afterward, desiring such garments as better fitted for her, and shewing her breasts, she made it apparant before the Soldane and his assistants, that shee was the very same woman indeede. Then turning her selfe to Ambroginolo, with more then manly courage, she demanded of him, when, and where it was, that he lay with her, as (villainously) he was not ashamed to make his vaunt? But hee, having alreadie acknowledged the contrarie, being stricken dumbe with shamefull disgrace, was not able to utter one word.
The Soldane, who had alwayes reputed Sicurano to be a man, having heard and seene so admirable an accident; was so amazed in his minde, that many times he was very doubtfull, whether this was a dreame, or an absolute relation of trueth. But, after hee had more seriously considered thereon, and found it to be reall and infallible: with extraordinary gracious praises, he commended the life, constancy, condition and vertues of Genevra, whom (til that time) he had alwayes called Sicurano. So committing her to the company of honourable Ladies, to be changed from her manly habite; he pardoned Bernardo her husband (according to her request formerly made) although hee had more justly deserved death: which likewise himselfe confessed, and falling at the feet of Genevra, desired her (in teares) to forgive his rash transgression, which most lovingly she did, kissing and embracing him a thousand times.
Then the Soldane strictly commaunded, that on some high and eminent place of the Citie, Ambroginolo should be bound and impaled on a stake, having his naked body nointed all over with hony, and never to bee taken off, untill (of it selfe) it fell in peeces, which, according to the sentence, was presently performed. Next, he gave expresse charge, that all his mony and goods should be given to Genevra, which valued above ten thousand double Duckets. Forthwith a solemne Feast was prepared, wherein much honor was done to Bernardo, being the husband of Genevra: and to her, as to a most worthy woman, and matchlesse wife, he gave in costly jewels, as also vessels of gold and silver plate, so much as did amount to above ten thousand double Duckets more.
When the feasting was finished, he caused a Ship to be furnished for them, graunting them license to depart from Geneway when they pleased; whither they returned most richly and joyfully, being welcomed home with great honour, especially Madam Genevra, whom every one supposed to be dead; and alwayes after, so long as she lived, shee was most famous for her manifold vertues. But as for Ambroginolo, the verie same day that hee was impaled on the stake, annointed with honey, and fixed in the place appointed, to his no meane torment: he not onely died, but likewise was devoured to the bare bones, by Flies, Waspes, and Hornets, whereof the Countrey notoriously aboundeth. And his bones, in full forme and fashion, remained strangely blacke for a long time after, knit together by the sinewes; as a witnesse to many thousands of people, which afterward beheld the Carkasse of his wickednesse against so good and vertuous a Woman, that had not so much as a thought of any evill towards him. And thus was the Proverbe truly verified, that shame succeedeth after ugly sinne, and the deceiver is trampled and trod, by such as himselfe hath deceived.
Every one in this honest and gracious assembly, most highly commended the Novell re-counted by the Queene: but especially Dioneus, who remained to finish that dayes pleasure with his owne Discourse, and after many praises of the former tale were past, thus he began.
Faire Ladies, part of the Queenes Novell hath made an alteration of my minde, from that which I intended to proceede next withall, and therfore I will report another. I cannot forget the unmanly indiscretion of Bernardo, but much more the base arrogance of Ambroginolo, how justly deserved shame fell upon him, as well it may happen to all other, that are so vile in their owne opinions, as he apparantly approved himselfe to be. For, as men wander abroad in the world, according to their occasions in diversity of Countries and observations of the peoples behaviour; so are their humours as variously transported. And if they finde women wantonly disposed abroade, the like judgement they give of their Wives at home; as if they had never knowne their birth and breeding, or made proofe of their loyall carriage towards them. Wherefore, the Tale that I purpose to relate, will likewise condemne all the like kind of men, but more especially such as thinke themselves endued with more strength then Nature meant to bestow on them, foolishly beleeving, that they can cover their owne defects by fabulous demonstrations, and thinking to fashion other of their owne complexions, that are meerely strangers to such grosse follies.
Know then, that there lived in Pisa (some hundred yeeres before Tuscany and Liguria embraced the Christian faith) a judge better stored with wisedome and ingenuity, then corporall abilities of the body, named Signior Ricciardo di Cinzica. He being more then halfe perswaded, that hee could content a woman with such satisfaction as hee daily bestowed on his studies, being a widdower, and extraordinary wealthy, laboured with no meane paines, to enjoy a faire and youthfull wife in marriage: both which qualities hee should much rather have avoyded, if he could have ministred as good counsell to himselfe, as he did to others, resorting to him for advice. Upon this his amorous and diligent inquisition, it came so to passe, that a worthy Gentlewoman, called Bertolomea, one of the fairest and choisest yong maids in Pisa, whose youth did hardly agree with his age; but muck was the motive of this mariage, and no expectation of mutuall contentment. The Judge being married, and the Bride brought solemnly home to his house, we need make no question of brave cheare and banquetting, well furnished by their friends on either side: other matters were now hammering in the judges head, for thogh he could please all his Clients with counsel, yet now such a suit was commenced against himselfe, and in Beauties Court of continuall requests, that the Judge failing in plea for his own defence, was often nonsuited by lack of answer; yet he wanted not good wines, drugs, and all sorts of restoratives to comfort the heart, and encrease good blood: but all availed not.
But well fare a good courage, where performance faileth, hee could liberally commend his passed joviall daies, and make a promise of as faire felicities yet to come; because his youth would renew it selfe like to the Eagle, and his vigour in as full force as before. But beside all these ydle allegations, would needs instruct his wife in an Almanacke or Kalender, which he had (formerly) bought at Ravenna, and wherein he plainely shewed her, that there was not one day in the yeere, but it was dedicated to some Saint or other. In reverence of whom, and for their sakes, he approved by divers arguments and reasons, that a man and his wife ought to abstaine from bedding together. Adding withall, that those Saints dayes had their Fasts and Feasts, beside the foure seasons of the yeer, the vigils of the Apostles, and a thousand other holy dayes, with Fridayes, Saterdayes, and Sundayes, in honor of our Lords rest, and al the holy time of Lent; as also certain observations of the Moone, and infinit other exceptions beside; thinking perhaps, that it was as convenient for men to refraine from their wives conversation, as he did often time from sitting in the Court. These were his dayly documents to his young wife, wherewith (poore soule) she became so tyred, as nothing could be more irksom to her, and very careful he was, lest any other should teach her what belonged to working daies, because he would have her know none but holy daies. It came to passe, that the season waxing extremely hot, Signior Ricciardo would go to recreate himselfe at his house in the country, neere to the blacke Mountaine, where for his faire wives more contentment, he continued divers daies together. And for her further recreation, he gave order to have a day of fishing, he going aboord a small Pinnace among the Fishers, and she in another, consorted with divers other Gentlewomen, in whose company she was very well pleased. Delight made them launch further into the Sea, then either the Judge was willing they should have done, or agreed with their owne safety. For sodainly a Galliot came upon them, wherein was one Pagamino a famous Pyrate, who espying the two Pinnaces, made presently to them, and seized on that wherein the women were. When he beheld there so faire a young Woman, he coveted after no other purchase; but mounting her into his Galliot, in the sight of Signior Ricciardo, who by this time was fearefully landed, he carried her away with him. When Signior Judge had seene this theft (he being so jealous of his wife, as scarsely he would let the ayre breathe on her) it were needlesse to know whether he was offended, or no. He made complaint at Pisa, and in other places beside, what injurie he had sustained by those Pyrates, in carrying away his wife from him: but all in vaine, he neither (as yet) knew the man, nor what was become of him. Pagamino perceiving what a beautifull woman shee was, made the more precious esteeme of his purchase, and being himselfe a Batchelor, intended to keepe her as his owne, comforting her with kinde and pleasing speeches, not using any ill demeanor to her, because she wept and lamented greevously. But when night came, her husbands Kalender falling from her girdle, and all the fasts and feasts quite out of her remembrance, she received such curtesies from Pagamino, that before they could arrive at Monaco, the Judge and his Law cases were almost out of memory; such was his affable behaviour to her, and she began to converse with him in more friendly manner, and he entreated her as honourably, as if she had bin his espoused wife.
Within a short while after, report had acquainted the Judge, where and how his wife was kept from him; whereupon hee determined, not to send, but rather to go himselfe in person, and to redeeme her from the Pyrate, with what summes of money he should demand. By sea he passed to Monaco, where he saw his wife, and she him, as (soone after) shee made known to Pagamino. The next morning, Signior Ricciardo meeting with Pagamino, made meanes to be acquainted with bim, and within lesse then an houres space, they grew into familiar conference; Pagamino yet pretending not to know him, but expected what issue this talke would sort to. When time served, the Judge discoursed the occasion of his comming thither, desiring him to demand what ransome he pleased, and that he might have his wife home with him. Whereto Pagamino answered.
My Lord Judge, you are welcome hither, and to answer you breefely very true it is, that I have a yong Gentlewoman in my house, whom I neither know to be your wife, or any other mans else whatsoever: for I am ignorant both of you and her, albeit she hath remained a while here with me. If you be her husband, as you seeme to avouch, I will bring her to you, for you appeare to be a worthy Gentleman, and (questionlesse) she cannot chuse but know you perfectly. If she do confirme that which you have saide, and be willing to depart hence with you: I shal rest well satisfied, and will have no other recompence for her ransome (in regard of your grave and reverend yeeres) but what your selfe shall please to give me. But if it fall out other then you have affirmed, you shal offer me great wrong, in seeking to get her from me; because I am a young man, and can as well maintaine so faire a wife as you, or any man else that I know. Beleeve it certainly, replyed the judge, that she is my wife, and if you please to bring me where she is, you shall soone perceive it: for she will presently cast her armes about my necke, and I durst adventure the utter losse of her, if she deny to do it in your presence. Come on then, saide Pagamino, and let us delay the time no longer.
When they were entred into Pagaminos house, and sat downe in the Hall, he caused her to be called, and she (being readily prepared for the purpose), came forth of her Chamber before them both, where friendly they sate conversing together; never uttering any word unto Signieur Ricciardo, or knowing him from any other stranger, that Pagamino might bring into the house with him. Which when my Lord the Judge beheld, (who expected to finde a farre more gracious welcome) he stoode as a man amazed, saying to himselfe. Perhaps the extraordinary greefe and melancholly suffered by me since the time of her losse, hath so altred my wonted complexion, that shee is not able to take knowledge of me. Wherefore, going neerer to her, he saide: Faire Love, deerely have I bought your going on fishing, because never man felt the like afflictions as I have done since the day when I lost you: but by this your uncivil silence, you seeme as if you did not know me. Why deerest love, seest thou not that I am thy husband Ricciardo, who am come to pay what ransome this Gentleman shall demaund, even in the house where now we are, so to convey thee home againe, upon his kind promise of thy deliverance, after the payment of thy ransome?
Bertolomea turning towards him, and seeming as if shee smiled to her selfe, thus answered. Sir, speake you to me? Advise your selfe well, least you mistake me for some other, for mine owne part, I never saw you till now. How now quoth Ricciardo? Consider better what you say, looke more circumspectly on me, and then you will remember, that I am your loving husband, and my name is Ricciardo di Cinzica. You must pardon me Sir, replyed Bertolomea, I know it not so fitting for a modest; woman to stand gazing in the faces of men: and let me looke uppon you never so often, certaine I am, that (till this instant) I have not seene you. My Lord Judge conceived in his minde, that thus she denied all knowledge of him, as standing in feare of Pagamino, and would not confesse him in his presence. Wherefore hee entreated of Pagamino, to affoord him so much favour, that he might speake alone with her in her Chamber. Pagamino answered, that he was well contented therewith, provided, that he should not kisse her against her will. Then he requested Bartolomea, to goe with him alone into her Chamber, there to heare what he could say, and to answere him as shee found occasion. When they were come into the Chamber, and none there present but he and shee, Signior Ricciardo began in this manner. Heart of my heart, life of my life, the sweetest hope that I have in this world; wilt thou not know thine owne Ricciardo, who loveth thee more then he doth himselfe? Why art thou so strange? Am I so disfigured, that thou knowest me not? Behold me with a more pleasing eye, I pray thee.
Bartolomea smiled to her self and without suffering him to proceed any further in speech, returned him this answere. I would have you to understand Sir, that my memory is not so oblivious, but I know you to be Signior Ricciardo di Cinzica, and my husband by name or title, but during the time that I was with you, it very ill appeared that you had any knowledge of me. For if you had bene so wise and considerate, as (in your own judgement) the world reputed you to be, you could not be voide of so much apprehension, but did apparantly perceive, that I was yong, fresh, and cheerefully disposed; and so (by consequent) meet to know matters requisite for such young women, beside allowance of food and garments, though bashfulnesse and modesty forbid to utter it. But if studying the Lawes were more welcome to you then a wife, you ought not to have maried, and you loose the worthy reputation of a judge, when you fall from that venerable profession, and make your selfe a common proclaimer of feasts and fasting dayes, lenten seasons, vigils, and solemnities due to Saints, which prohibite the houshold conversation of husbands and wives.
Here am I now with a worthy Gentleman, that entertaineth me with very honourable respect, and here I live in this Chamber, not so much as hearing of any feasts or fasting dayes; for, neither Fridaies, Saturdaies, vigils of Saints, or any lingering Lent, enter at this doore: but heere is honest and civill conversation, better agreeing with a youthfull disposition, then those harsh documents wherewith you tutord me. Wherefore my purpose is to continue here with him, as being a place sutable to my minde and youth, referring feasts, vigils, and fasting daies, to a more mature and stayed time of age, when the body is better able to endure them, and the mind may be prepared for such ghostly meditations: depart therefore at your owne pleasure, and make much of your Calender, without enjoying any company of mine, for you heare my resolved determination.
The Judge hearing these words, was overcome with exceeding griefe, and when she was silent, thus he began. Alas deare Love, what an answere is this? Hast thou no regard of thine owne honor, thy Parents, and friends? Canst thou rather affect to abide here, for the pleasures of this man, and so sin capitolly, then to live at Pisa in the state of my wife? Consider deare heart, when this man shall waxe weary of thee, to thy shame and his owne disgrace, he will reject thee. I must and shall love thee for ever, and when I dye, I leave thee Lady and commandresse of all that is mine. Can an inordinate appetite, cause thee to be carelesse of thine honour, and of him that loves thee as his owne life? Alas, my fairest hope, say no more so, but returne home with me, and now that I am acquainted with thy inclination; I will endeavour heereafter to give thee better contentment. Wherefore (deare heart) doe not denie me, but change thy minde, and goe with me, for I never saw merry day since I lost thee. Sir (quoth she) I desire no body to have care of mine honour, beside my selfe, because it cannot be here abused. And as for my Parents, what respect had they of me, when they made me your wife? If then they could be so carelesse of mee, what reason have I to regard them now? And whereas you taxe me, that I cannot live here without capitall sin; farre is the thought thereof from me: for, here I am regarded as the wife of Pagamino, but at Pisa, you reputed me not worthy your society: because, by the point of the Moone, and the quadratures of Geometrie; the Planets held conjunction betweene you and me, whereas here I am subject to no such constellations. You say beside, that hereafter you will strive to give me better contentment then you have done; surely, in mine opinion it is no way possible, because our complexions are so farre different, as yce is from fire, or gold from drosse. As for your allegation, of this Gentlemans rejecting me, when his humour is satisfied; should it prove to be so (as it is the least part of my feare) what fortune soever shall betide me, never will I make any meanes to you, what miseries or misadventures may happen to me; but the world will affoord me one resting place or other, and more to my contentment, then if I were with you. Therefore I tell you once againe, to live secured from all offence to holy Saints, and not to injure their feasts, fasts, vigills, and other ceremonious seasons: here is my demourance, and from hence I purpose not to part.
Our Judge was now in a wofull perplexity, and confessing his folly, in marying a wife so young, and far unfit for his age and abilitie: being halfe desperate, sad and displeased, he came forth of the Chamber, using divers speeches to Pagamino, whereof he made little or no account at all: and in the end, without any other successe, left his wife there, and returned home to Pisa. There further afflictions fell upon him, because the people began to scorne him, demanding dayly of him, what was become of his gallant young wife, making hornes, with ridiculous pointings at him: whereby his sences became distracted, so that he ran raving about the streetes, and afterward died in very miserable manner. Which newes came no sooner to the eare of Pagamino, but, in the honourable affection hee bare to Bertolomea, he maried her, with great solemnity; banishing all Fasts, Vigils, and Lents from his house, and living with her in much felicity. Wherfore (faire Ladies) I am of opinion, that Bernardo of Geneway, in his disputation with Ambroginolo; might have shewne himselfe a great deale wiser, and sparing his rash proceeding with his wife.
This tale was so merrily entertained among the whole company, that each one smiling upon another, with one consent commended Dioneus, maintaining that he spake nothing but the truth, and condemning Bernardo for his cruelty. Upon a generall silence commanded, the Queen perceiving that the time was now very farre spent, and every one had delivered their severall Novels, which likewise gave a period to her Royalty: she gave the Crowne to Madam Neiphila, pleasantly speaking to her in this order. Heereafter, the government of these few people is committed to your trust and care, for with the day concludeth my dominion. Madam Neiphila, blushing; at the honor done unto her, her cheekes appeared of a vermillion tincture, her eyes glittering with gracefull desires, and sparkeling like the morning Starre. And after the modest murmure of the Assistants was ceased, and her courage in chearfull manner setled, seating her selfe higher then she did before, thus she spake.
Seeing it is so, that you have elected me your Queene, to varie somewhat from the course observed by them that went before me, whose governement you have all so much commended: by approbation of your counsell, I am desirous to speake my mind, concerning what I wold have to be next followed. It is not unknowne to you all, that to morrow shal be Friday, and Saturday the next day following, which are daies somewhat molestuous to the most part of men, for preparation of their weekly food and sustenance. Moreover, Friday ought to be reverendly respected, in remembrance of him, who died to give us life, and endured his bitter passion, as on that day; which makes me to hold it fit and expedient, that wee should mind more weight), matters, and rather attend our prayers and devotions then the repetition of tales or Novels. Now concerning Saturday, it hath bin a custome observed among women, to bath and wash themselves from such immundicities as the former weekes toile hath imposed on them. Beside, it is a day of fasting, in honour of the ensuing Sabbath, whereon no labor may be done, but the observation of holy exercises.
By that which hath bin saide, you may easily conceive, that the course which we have hitherto continued, cannot bee prosecuted in one and the same manner: where. fore, I would advise and do hold it an action wel performed by us, to cease for these few dayes, from recounting any other Novels. And because we have remained here foure daies already, except we would allow the enlarging of our company, with some other friends that may resort unto us: I thinke it necessary to remove from hence, and take our pleasure in another place, which is already by me determined. When we shalbe there assembled, and have slept on the discourses formerly delivered, let our next argument be still the mutabilities of Fortune, but especially to concerne such persons, as by their wit and ingenuity, industriously have attained to some matter earnestly desired, or else recovered againe, after the losse. Heereon let us severally study and premeditate, that the hearers may receive benefit thereby, with the comfortable maintenance of our harmelesse recreations; the priviledge of Dioneus alwayes reserved to himselfe.
Every one commended the Queens deliberation, concluding that it shold be accordingly prosecuted: and thereupon, the master of the houshold was called, to give him order for that evenings Table service, and what else concerned the time of the Queenes Royalty, wherein he was sufficiently instructed: which being done, the company arose, licensing every one to doe what they listed. The Ladies and Gentlemen walked to the Garden, and having sported themselves there a while; when the houre of supper came, they sate downe, and fared very daintily. Being risen from the Table, according to the Queenes command, Madam Aemilia led the dance, and the ditty following, was sung by Madam Pampinea, being answered by all the rest, as a Chorus.
And if not I, what Lady else can sing,
Of those delights, which kind contentment bring?
Come, come, sweet Love, the cause of my chiefe good,
Of all my hopes, the firme and full effect;
Sing wee together, but in no sad mood,
Of sighes or teares, which joy doth countercheck:
Stolne pleasures are delightfull in the taste,
But yet Loves fire is oftentimes too fierce;
Consuming comfort with ore-speedy haste,
Which into gentle hearts too far doth pierce.
And if not I, etc.
The first day that I felt this fiery heate,
So sweete a passion did possesse my soule,
That though I found the torment sharp, and great;
Yet still me thought t'was but a sweete controule.
Nor could I count it rude, or rigorous,
Taking my wound from such a piercing eye:
As made the paine most pleasing, gracious,
That I desire in such assaults to die.
And if not I, etc.
Grant then great God of Love, that I may still
Enjoy the benefit of my desire;
And honour her with all my deepest skill,
That first enflam'd my heart with holy fire.
To her my bondage is free liberty,
My sicknesse health, my tortures sweet repose;
Say shee the word, in full felicity
All my extreames joyne in an happy close.
Then if not I, what Lover else can sing,
Of those delights which kind contentment bring?
After this Song was ended, they sung divers other beside, and having great variety of instruments' they played to them as many pleasing dances. But the Queene considering that the meete houre for rest was come, with their lighted Torches before them, they all repaired to their Chambers; sparing the other dayes next succeeding, for those reasons by the Queene alledged, and spending the Sunday in solemne devotion.