Upon Which Day, All Matters To Be Discoursed On, Doe Passe Under The Regiment Of Madam Neiphila: Concerning Such Persons As (By Their Wit And Industry) Have Attained To Their Long Wished Desires, Or Recovered Something, Supposed To Be Lost.
The morning put on a vermillion countenance and made the Sunne to rise blushing red, when the Queene (and all the faire company) were come abroad forth of their Chambers; the Seneshall or great Master of the Houshold, having (long before); sent all things necessary to the place of their next intended meeting. And the people which prepared there every needfull matter, suddainely when they saw the Queene was setting forward, charged all the rest of their followers, as if it had beene prepatation for a Campe; to make hast away with the carriages, the rest of the Familie remaining behind, to attend upon the Ladies and Gentlemen.
With a milde, majesticke, and gentle pace, the Queene rode on, being followed by the other Ladies, and the three young Gentlemen, taking their way towards the West; conducted by the musicall notes of sweete singing Nightingales, and infinite other pretty Birds beside, riding in a tract not much frequented, but richly abounding with faire hearbes and flowres, which by reason of the Sunnes high mounting, beganne to open their bosome.
But, after the dayes warmth was more mildely qualified, and every one had made benefit of their best content: they went (by order sent from the Queene) into the Meadow where the Fountaine stood, and being set about it, as they used to do in telling their Tales (the argument appointed by the Queene being propounded) the first that had the charge imposed, was Philostratus, who began in this manner.[Hide Induction]
Most worthy Ladies, there wants no store of men and women, that are so simple, as to credit for a certainty, that so soon as a yong virgin hath the veile put on hir head, and the black Cowle given to cover withall, she is no longer a woman, nor more sensible of feminine affections, then as if in turning Nun, shee became converted to a stone. And if (perchance) they heard some matters, contrary to their former perswasion; then they grow so furiously offended, as if one had committed a most foule and enormous sinne, directly against the course of Nature. And the torrent of this opinion burries them on so violently, that they wil admit no leisure to consider, how (in such a scope of liberty) they have power to doe what they list, yea beyond all meanes of sufficient satisfying, never remembring how potent the priviledge of idlenes is, especially when it is backt by solitude. In like manner, there are other people now, who verily beleeve, that the Spade and Pickaxe, grosse feeding and labour, do quench al sensual and fleshly concupiscence, yea, in such as till and husband the ground, by making them dull, blockish, and (almost) meere senslesse of understanding. But I will approve (according as the Queene hath commanded me, and within the compasse of her direction) by a short and pleasant Tale; how greatly they are abused by errour, that build upon so weake a foundation.
Not farre from Alexandria, there was a great and goodly Monasterie, belonging to the Lord of those parts, who is termed the Admirall. And therein, under the care and trust of one woman, divers virgins were kept as recluses, or Nuns, vowed to chastity of life; out of whose number, the Soldan of Babylon (under whom they lived in subjection) at every three yeers end, had usually three of these virgins sent him. At the time wherof I am now to speake, there remained in the Monastery, no more but eight religious Sisters only, beside the Lady Abbesse, and an honest poor man, who was a Gardiner, and kept the Garden in commendable order.
His wages being small, and he not well contented therewith, would serve there no longer: but making his accounts even, with the Factotum or Bayliffe belonging to the house, returned thence to the village of Lamporechio, being a native of the place. Among many other that gave him welcom home, was a yong Hebrew pezant of the country, sturdy, strong and yet comely of person, being named Masset. But because he was born not farre off from Lamporechio, and had there bin brought up all his yonger dayes, his name of Masset (according to their vulgar speech) was turnec to Massetto, and therefore he was usually called and knowne by the name of Massetto of Lamporechio.
Massetto, falling in talke with the honest poore man, whose name was Lurco, demanded of him what services hee had done in the Monasterie, having continued there so long a time? Quoth Lurco, I laboured in the Garden, which is very faire and great; then I went to the Forest to fetch home wood, and cleft it for their Chamber fuell, drawing up all theyr water beside, with many other toilsome services else: but the allowance of my wages was so little, as it would not pay for the shoes I wore. And that which was worst of all, they being all women, I thinke the divel dwels among g them, for a man cannot doe any thing to please them. When I have bene busie at my worke in the garden, one would come and say, Put this heere, put that there; and others would take the dibble out of my hand, telling me, that I did not performe any thing well, making me so weary of their continuall trifling, as I have lefte all busines, given over the Garden, and what for one mollestation, as also many other; I intended to tarry no longer there, but came away, as thou seest. And yet the Factotum desired me at my departing, that if I knew any one who would undertake the aforesaid labours, I should send him thither, as (indeed) I promised to do: but let mee fall sicke and dye, before I helpe to send them any.
When Massetto had heard the words of Lurco, hee was so desirous to dwell among the Nunnes, that nothing else now hammered in his head: for he meant more subtilly than poore Lurco did, and made no doubt to please them sufficiently. Then considering with himselfe, how best he might bring his intent to effect; which appeared not easily to bee done. He could question no further therein with Lurco, but onely demaunded other matter of him, saying: Introth thou didst well Lurco, to come away from so tedious a dwelling, had he need to be more then a man that is to live with such women? It were better for him to dwell among so many divels, because they understand not the tenth part that womens wily wits can dive into.
After their conference was ended, Massetto began to beate his braines how he might compasse to dwell among them, and knowing that he could wel enough performe all the labours whereof Lurco had made mention, he cared not for any losse he should sustaine thereby, but onely stood in doubt of his entertainment, because he was too yong and sprightly. Having pondered on many imaginations, he said to himselfe. The place is farre enough distant hence, and none there can take knowledge of mee; if I have wit sufficient, cleanely to make them beleeve that I am dumbe, then (questionles) I shal be received. And resolving to prosecute this determination, he tooke a Spade on his shoulder, and without revealing to any body whether hee went, in the disguise of a poore labouring Countryman, he travelled to the Monastery.
When he was there arrived, he found the great gate open, and entering in boldly, it was his good hap to espy the Fac-totum in the court, according as Lurco had given description of him. Making signes before him, as if he were both dumbe and deafe; he manifested, that he craved an Almes for Gods sake, making shewes beside, that if need required, he could cleave wood, or doe any reasonable kinde of service. The Factotum gladly gave him food, and afterward shewed him divers knotty logs of wood, which the weake strength of Lurco had left uncloven; but this fellow being more active and lusty, quickly rent them all to pieces. Now it so fell out, that the Fac-totum must needs go to the Forrest, and tooke Massetto along with him thither: where causing him to fell divers Trees, by signes he bad him to the two Asses therewith, which commonly carried home all the wood, and so drive them to the Monasterie before him, which Massetto knew well enough how to do, and performed it very effectually.
Many other servile Offices were there to bee done, which caused the Fac-totum to make use of his paines divers other dayes beside; in which time, the Lady Abbesse chancing to see him, demanded of the Factotum what he was? Madani (quoth hee) a poore labouring man, who is both deafe and dumbe, hither he came to crave an almes the other day, the which in charity I could do no lesse but give him; for which, hee hath done many honest services about the house. It seemes beside, that hee hath pretty skill in Gardening, so that if I can perswade him to continue here, I make no question of his able services: for the old silly man is gon, and we have need of such a stout fellow, to do the busines belonging to the Monastery, and one fitter for the turne, comes sildome hither. Moreover, in regard of his double imperfections, the Sisters can sustaine no impeachment by him. Whereto the Abbesse answered, saying; By the faith of my body, you speake but the truth: understand then, if hee have any knowledge in Gardening, and whether hee will dwell heere, or no: which compasse so kindly as you can. Let him have a new paire of shoes, fill his belly daily full of meate, flatter, and make much of him, for wee shall finde him worke enough to do. All which, the Fac-totum promised to fulfill sufficiently.
Massetto, who was not far off from them all this while, but seemed seriously busied about sweeping and making cleane the Court, heard all these speeches; and being not a little joyfull of them; said to himselfe. If once I come to worke in your Garden, let the proofe yeeld praise of my skill and knowledge. When the Fac-totum perceived, that he knew perfectly how to undergo his businesse, and had questioned him by signes, concerning his willingnesse to serve there still, and received the like answere also, of his dutifull readinesse thereto; he gave him order to worke in the Garden, because the season did now require it; and to leave all other affayres for the Monastery, attending now onely the Gardens preparation.
As Massetto was thus about his Garden emploiment, the Nunnes began to resort thither, and thinking the man to be dumbe and deafe indeede, were the more lavish of their language, mocking and flowting him very immodestly, as being perswaded, that he heard them not. And the Lady Abbesse, thinking he might as well be an Eunuch, as deprived both of hearing and speaking, stood the lesse in feare of the Sisters walkes, but referred them to their owne care and providence. On a day, Massetto having laboured somewhat extraordinarily, lay downe to rest himselfe awhile under the trees, and two delicate yong Nunnes, walking there to take the aire, drew neere to the place where he dissembled sleeping; and both of them observing his comelinesse of person, began to pitty the poverty of his condition; but much more the misery of his great defectes. Then one of them, who had a little livelier spirit then the other, thinking Massetto to be fast asleepe, began in this manner.
Sister (quoth she) if I were faithfully assured of thy secrecie, I would tell thee a thing which I have often thought on, and it may (perhaps) redound to thy profit. Sister, replyed the other Nun, speake your minde boldly, and beleeve it (on my Maidenhead) that I will never reveale it to any creature living. Encouraged by this solemne answere, the first Nun thus prosecuted her former purpose, saying. I know not Sister, whether it hath entred into thine understanding or no, strictly we are here kept and attended, never any man daring to adventure among us, except our good and bonest Fac-totum, who is very aged; and this dumbe fellow, maimed, and made imperfect by nature, and therefore not worthy the title of a man. Ah Sister, it hath oftentimes bin told me, by Gentlewomen comming hither to visite us, that all other sweetes in the world, are mockeries, to the incomparable pleasures of man and woman, of which we are barred by our unkind parents, binding us to perpetuall chastity, which they were never able to observe themselves.
A Sister of this house once told me, that before her turne came to be sent to the Soldane, she fell in frailty with a man that was both lame and blinde, and discovering the same to her Ghostly Father in confession; he absolved her of that sinne; affirming, that she had not transgressed with a man, because he wanted his rationall and understanding parts. Behold Sister, heere lyes a creature, almost formed in the self-same mold, dumbe and deafe, which are two the most rationall and understanding parts that do belong to any man, and therefore no Man, wanting them. If folly and frailty would be committed with him (as many times since hee came hither it hath run in my minde) hee is by Nature, sworne to such secrecie, that he cannot (if he would) be a blabbe thereof. Beside, the Lawes and constitution of our Religion doth teach us, that a sinne so assuredly concealed, is more then halfe absolved.
Ave Maria Sister (saide the other Nun) what kinde of words are these you utter? Doe not you know, that we have promised our virginity to God? Oh Sister (answered the other) how many things are promised to him every day, and not one of a thousand kept or performed? If wee have made him such a promise, and some of our weakerwitted sisters do performe it for us, no doubt but he will accept it in part of payment. Yea but Sister, replied the second Nun againe, there is another danger lying in the way: If we prove to be with childe, how shall we doe then? Sister (quoth our couragious wench) thou art affraide of harme before it happen: if it come so to passe, let us consider on it then: thou art but a Novice in matters of such moment, we are provided of a thousand meanes, whereby to prevent conception. Or, if they should faile, we are so surely fitted, that the world shall never know it. Let it suffice, our lives must not be by any so much as suspected, our Monastery questioned, or our Religion rashly scandalized. Thus shee schooled her younger Sister in wit, albeit as forward as shee in will, and longed as desirouslie, to know what kinde of creature man was.
After some other questions, how this intention of theirs might bee safely brought to full effect: the sprightly Nun that had wit at will, thus answered. You see Sister (quoth she) it is now the houre of midday, when all the rest of our sisterhood are quiet in their Chambers, because we are then allowed to sleep, for our earlier rising to morning Mattins. Here are none in the Garden now but our selves, and while I awake him, bee you the watch, and afterward follow mee in my fortune, for I will valiantly leade you the way. Massetto immitating a Dogges sleepe, heard all this conspiracie intended against him, and longed as earnestly till shee came to awake him. Which being done, he seeming very simple and sottish, and she chearing him with flattering behaviour: into the close Arbour they went, which the Sunnes bright eye could not pierce into, and there I leave it to the Nunnes owne approbation, whether Massetto was a man rationall, or no. Ill deeds require longer time to contrive, then act; and both the Nuns having bene with Massetto at this new forme of confession, were enjoyned (by him) such an easie and silent penance, as brought them the oftner to shrift, and made him to proove a very perfect Confessour.
Desires obtayned, but not fully satisfied, doe commonly urge more frequent accesse, then wisedome thinkes expedient, or can continue without discovery. Our two joviall Nunnes, not a little proud of their private stolne pleasures, so long resorted to the close Arbour, till another Sister, who had often observed their haunt thither, by meanes of a little hole in her Window; that shee began to suspect them with Massetto, and imparted the same to two other Sisters, all three concluding, to accuse them before the Lady Abbesse. But upon a further conference had with the Offenders, they changed opinion, tooke the same oath as the forewomen had done; and because they would be free from any taxation at all: they revealed their adventures to the other three ignorants, and so fell all eight into one formall confederacie, but by good and warie observation, least the Abbesse her selfe should descry them; finding poore Massetto such plenty of Garden-worke, as made him verie doubtfull in pleasing them all.
It came to passe in the end, that the Lady Abbesse who all this while imagined no such matter, walking all alone in the garden on a day, found Massetto sleeping under an Almond tree, having then very litle businesse to doe, because he had wrought hard all the night before. She observed him to be an hansome man, young, lusty, well-limbde and proportioned, having a mercifull commisseration of his dumbenesse and deafenes, being perswaded also in like manner, that if hee were an Eunuch too, hee deserved a thousand times the more to be pittied. The season was exceeding hot, and he lay downe so carelesly to sleepe, that somthing was noted wherein shee intended to be better resolved, almost falling sicke of the other Nunnes disease. Having awaked him, she commanded him by signes that he should follow her to her chamber, where he was kept close so long, that the Nunnes grew offended, because the Gardiner came not to his daily labour.
Well may you imagine that Massetto was no misse-proud man now, to be thus advanced from the Garden to the Chamber, and by no worse woman then the Lady Abbesse her selfe: what signes, shews, or what language he speaks there, I am not able to expresse; onely it appeared, that his behaviour pleased her so well, as it procured his daily repairing thether; and acquainted her with such familiar conversation, as she would have condemned in the Nunnes her daughters, but that they were wise enough to keepe it from her. Now began Massetto to consider, that hee had undertaken a taske belonging to great Hercules, in giving content to so many, and by continuing dumbe in this maner, it would redound to his no meane detriment. Whereupon, as he was one night sitting by the Abbesse, the string that retained his tongue from speech, brake on a sodaine, and thus he spake.
Madam, I have often heard it said, that one Cocke may doe service to ten several Hennes, but ten men can very hardly even with all their best endeavour, give full satisfaction every way to one woman; and yet I am tied to content nine, which is farre beyond the compasse of my power to do. Already have I performed so much Garden and Chamber-work, that I confesse my selfe starke tired, and can travaile no further, and therefore let me entreate you to lycense my departure hence, or finde some meanes for my better ease. The Abbesse bearing him speake, who had so long ben there stricken into admiration, and accounting it almost a miracle, said. How commeth this to passe? I verily beleeved thee to be dumbe. Madam (quoth Massetto) so I was indeed, but not by Nature; onely I had a long lingering sicknes which bereft me of speech, and which I have not onely recovered againe this night, but shal ever remaine thankfull to you for it.
The Abbesse verily credited his answer, demanding what he meant in saying, that he did service to nine? Madam, quoth he, this were a dangerous question, and not easily answered before fore the eight Sisters. Upon this reply, the Abbesse plainely perceived, that not onely she had fallen into foll but all the Nunnes likewise cried guilty too: wherfore being a woman of sound discretion, she would not grant that Massetto should depart, but to keepe him still about the Nunnes businesse, because the Monastery should not be scandalized by him. And the Fac-totum being dead a little before, his strange recovery of speech revealed, and some things else more neerely concerning them: by generall consent, and with the good liking of Massetto, he was created the Fac-totum of the Monasterie.
All the neighboring people dwelling thereabout, who knew Massetto to be dumbe, by fetching home wood daily from the Forest, and divers employments in other places, were made to beleeve, that by the Nunnes devout prayers and discipline, as also the merite of the Saint, in whose honour the Monastery was built and erected, Massetto had his long restrained speech restored, and was now become their sole Factotum, having power now to employ others in drudgeries, and ease himselfe of all such labours. And albeit he made the Nunnes to be fruitfull, by encreasing some store of yonger sisters, yet all matters were so close and cleanly catried, as it was never talkt of, till after the death of the Ladie Abbesse, when Massetto beganne to grow in good yeeres, and desired to returne home to his native abiding, which (within a while after) was granted him.
Thus Massetto being rich and olde, returned home like a wealthy father, taking no care for the nursing of his children, but bequeathed them to the place where they were bred and borne, having (by his wit and ingenious apprehension) made such a benefit of his youthfull yeeres, that now he merrily tooke ease in his age.[ Hide First Novell ]
When the Novel of Philostratus was concluded, which made some of the Ladies blush, and the rest to smile: it pleased the Queene, that Madam Pampinea should follow next, to second the other gone before; when she, smiling on the whole assembly, began thus. There are some men so shallow of capacity, that they will (neverthelesse) make shew of knowing and understanding such things, as neither they are able to doe, nor appertaine to them: whereby they will sometimes reprehend other new errours, and such faults as they have unwillingly committed, thinking thereby to hide their owne shame, when they make it much more apparant and manifest. For proofe whereof, faire company, in a contrary kinde I will shew you the subtill cunning of one, who (perhaps) may bee reputed of lesse reckning then Massetto; and yet he went beyond a King, that thought himselfe to be a much wiser man.
Agilulffo, King of Lombardie, according as his Predecessours had done before him, made the principall seate of his Kingdome, in the Citie of Pavia, having embraced in mariage, Tendelinga, the late left widdow of Vetario, who likewise had beene King of the Lombards; a most beautifull wife and vertuous Lady, but made unfortunate by a mischance. The occurrences and estate of the whole Realme, being in an honourable, quiet and well setled condition, by the discreete care and providence of the King; a Querrie appertaining to the Queenes Stable of Horse, being a man but of meane and low quality, though comely of person, and of equall stature to the King; became immeasurably amorous of the Queene. And because his base and servile condition, had endued him with so much understanding, as to know infallibly, that his affection was mounted beyond the compasse of conveniencie: wisely he concealed it to himselfe, not acquainting any one therewith, or daring so much, as to discover it either by lookes, or any other affectionate behaviour.
And although hee lived utterly hopelesse, of ever attaining to his hearts desires; yet notwithstanding, hee proudly gloried, that his love had soared so high a pitch, as to be enamoured of a Queene. And dayly, as the fury of his flame encreased; so his cariage was farre above his fellowes and companions, in the performing of all such serviceable duties, as any way he imagined might content the Queene. Whereon ensued, that whensoever shee roade abroad to take the ayre, shee used oftner to mount on the Horse, which this Querrie brought when shee made her choise, then any of the other that were led by his fellowes. And this did he esteeme as no meane happinesse to him, to order the stirrope for her mounting, and therefore gave dayly his due attendance: so that, to touch the Stirrop, but (much more) to put her foote into it, or touch any part of her garments, he thought it the onely heaven on earth.
But, as we see it oftentimes come to passe, that by how much the lower hope declineth, so much the higher love ascendeth; even so fell it out with this poore Querry; for, most irkesome was it to him, to endure the heavy waight of his continuall oppressions, not having any hope at all of the very least mitigation. And being utterly unable to relinquish his love divers times he resolved on some desperate conclusion, which might yet give the world an evident testimony, that he dyed for the love he bare to the Queene. And upon this determination, hee grounded the successe of his future fortune, to dye in compassing some part of his desire, without either speaking to the Queene, or sending any missive of his love; for to speake or write, were meerely in vaine, and drew on a worser consequence then death, which he could bestow on himselfe more easily, and when he listed.
No other course now beleagers his braines, but onely for secret accesse to the Queenes bed, and how he might get entrance into her Chamber, under colour of the King, who (as he knew very well) slept many nights together from the Queene. Wherefore, to see in what manner, and what the usuall habit was of the King, when he came to keepe companie with his Queene: he hid himselfe divers nights in a Gallery, which was betweene both their lodging Chambers. At length, he saw the King come forth of his Chamber, himselfe all alone, with a faire night-mantle wrapt about him, carrying a lighted Taper in the one hand, and a small white Wand in the other, so went he on to the Queenes lodging; and knocking at the doore once or twice with the wand, and not using any word, the doore opened, the light was left without, and he entered the Chamber, where he stayed not long, before his returning backe againe, which likewise very diligently he observed.
So familiar was he in the Wardrobe, by often fetching and returning the King and Queenes furnitures; that the fellowes to the same Mantle which the King wore when he went to the Queene, very secretly he conveighed away thence with him, being provided of a Light, and the very like Wand. Now bestowes he costly bathings on his body, that the least sent of the Stable might not be felt about him; and finding a time sutable to his desire, when he knew the King to bee at rest in his owne Lodging, and all else sleeping in their bed; closely he steals into the Gallery, where alighting his Taper, with the Tinder purposely brought thither, the Mantle folded about him, and the Wand in his hand, valiantly he adventures upon his lives perill. Twice hee knockt softly at the doore, which a wayting woman immediately opened, and receyving the Light, went forth into the Gallery, while the supposed King, was conversing with the Queene.
Alas good Queene, heere is a sinne commited without any guiltie thought in thee, as (within a while after) it plainely appeared. For, the Querry having compassed what he most coveted, and fearing to forfelte his life by delay, when his amorous desire was indifferently satisfied: returned backe as he came, the sleepy waiting woman not so much as looking on him, but rather glad, that she might get her to rest againe. Scarcely was the Querrie stept into his bed, unheard or discerned by any of his fellowes, divers of them lodging both in that and the next Chamber: but it pleased the King to visite the Queene, according to his wonted manner, to the no little mervaile of the drowsie wayting woman, who was never twice troubled in a night before. The King being in bed, whereas alwayes till then, his resort to the Queene, was altogether in sadnesse and melancholly, both comming and departing without speaking one word: now his Majestie was become more pleasantly disposing, whereat the Queene began not a little to mervaile. Now trust mee Sir, quoth shee, this hath beene a long wished, and now most welcome alteration, vouchsafing twice in a night to visite me, and both within the compasse of one houre; for it cannot be much more, since your being here, and now comming againe.
The King hearing these words, sodainely presumed, that by some counterfeit person or other, the Queene had beene this night beguiled: wherefore (very advisedly) hee considered, that in regard the party was unknowne to her, and all the women about her; to make no outward appearance of knowing it, but rather concealed it to himselfe. Farre from the indiscretion of some haire-braind men, who presently would have answered and sworne; I came hither this night, till now. Whereupon many dangers might ensue, to the dishonour and prejudice of the Queene: beside, her error being discovered to her, might afterward be an occasion, to urge a wandring in her appetite, and to covet after change againe. But by this silence, no shame redounded to him or her, whereas prating, must needs be the publisher of open infamie: yet was hee much vexed in his minde, which neither by lookes or words hee would discover, but pleasantly said to the Queene, Why Madam, although I was once heere before to night, I hope you mislike not my second seeing you, nor if I should please to come againe. No truly Sir, quoth she, I onely desire you to have care of your health. Well, said the King, I will follow your counsaile, and now returne to mine owne lodging againe, committing my Queene to her good rest.
His blood boyling with rage and distemper, by such a monstrous injurie offered him; he wrapt his night-mantle about out and leaving his Chamber, imagining, that whatsoever he was, needs he must be one of his owne house: he tooke a light in his hand, and convayed it into a little Lanthorne, purposing to be resolved in his suspition. No guests or strangers were now in his Court, but onely such as belonged to his houshold, who lodged altogether about the Escurie and Stables, being there appointed to divers beds. Now, this was his conceite, that whosoever had beene so lately familiar with the Queene, his heart and his pulse could (as yet) be hardly at rest, but rather would be troubled with apparant agitation, as discovering the guilt of so great an offender. Many Chambers had he passed thorow, where all were soundly sleeping, and yet he felt both their brests and pulses.
At last he came to the lodging of the man indeede, that had so impudently usurped his place, who could not as yet sleepe, for joy of atchieved adventure. When he espied the King come in, knowing well the occasion of his search, he began to waxe very doubtfull, so that his heart and pulse beating extreamely, he felt a further addition of feare, as being confidently perswaded, that there was now no other way but death, especially if the King discovered his agony. And although many considerations were in his braine, yet because he saw that the King was unarmed, his best refuge was, to make shew of sleepe, in expectation what the King intended to doe. Among them all he had sought, yet could not find any likelihood, whereby to gather a grounded probability; he came to this Querry, whose heart and pulses laboured so strongly, that he said to himselfe, Yea mary, this is th man that did the deede.
Nevertheless, purposing to make no apparance of his further intention, he did nothing else to him, but drawing forth a paire of sheares, which purposely he brought thither with him, he clipped away a part of his lockes, which (in those times) they used to weare very long, to the end that he might the better know him the next morning, and so returned backe to his lodging againe. The Querry, who partly saw, but felt what was done to him; perceived plainely (being a subtill ingenious fellow) for what intent he was thus marked. Wherefore, without any longer dallying, up he rose, and taking a paire of sheares, wherewith they used to trim their Horses; softly he went from bed to bed, where they all lay yet soundly sleeping, and clipt away each mans locke from his right eare, in the selfe same manner as the King had done his, and being not perceived by any one of them, quietly he laide him downe againe.
In the morning, when the King was risen, he gave command that before the Pallace gates were opened, all his whole Family should come before him, as instantly his will was fulfilled. Standing all uncovered in his presence, he began to consider with himselfe, which of them was the man that he had marked. And seeing the most part of them to have their lockes cut, all after one and the selfe same manner; marvailing greatly, he saide to himselfe. The man whom I seeke for, though he be but of meane and base condition, yet it plainely appeareth, that he is of no deject or common understanding. And seeing, that without further clamour and noyse, he could not find out the party he looked for, he concluded, not to win eternall shame, by compassing a poore revenge: but rather (by way of admonition) to let the offender know in a word, that he was both noted and observed. So turning to them all, he saide; He that hath done it, let him be silent, and doe so no more, and now depart about your businesse.
Some other turbulent spirited man, no imprisonments, tortures, examinations, and interrogations, could have served his turne; by which course of proceeding, he makes the shame to be publikely knowne, which reason requireth to keepe concealed. But admit that condigne vengeance were taken, it diminisheth not one tittle of the shame, neither qualifieth the peoples bad affections, who will lash out as liberally in scandal, and upon the very least babling rumor. Such therfore as heard the Kings words, few though they were, yet truly wise; marvelled much at them, and by long examinations among themselves, questioned, but came far short of his meaning; the man onely excepted whom indeed they concerned, and by whom they were never discovered, so long as the King lived, neither did he dare at any time after, to hazard his life in the like action, under the frownes or favour of Fortune.[ Hide Second Novell ]
When Madam Pampinea sate silent, and the Querries boldnesse equalled with his crafty cunning, and great wisedom in the King had passed amongst them with a generall applause; the Queene turning her selfe to Madam Philomena, appointed her to follow next in order as the rest had done before her: whereupon Philomena began after this maner.
It is my purpose, to acquaint you with a notable mockerie, which was performed (not in jest, but earnest) by a faire Gentlewoman, to a grave and devoute Religious Friar, which will yeelde so much the more pleasure and recreation, to every secular understander, if but diligently he or she doe observe, how commonly those Religious persons (at least the most part of them) like notorious fooles, are the inventers of new courses and customes, as thinking themselves more wise and skilful in all things then any other; yet prove to be of no worth or validity, addicting the verie best of all their devices, to expresse their owne vilenesse of mind, and fatten themselves in their styes like to pampered Swine. And assure your selves worthy Ladies, that I doe not tell this tale onely to follow the order enjoyned me; but also to informe you that such Saint-like holy Sirs, of whom we are too opinionate and credulous, may be, yea and are (divers times) cunningly met withall, in theyr craftinesse, not onely by men, but likewise some of our owne sexe, as shall make it apparant to you.
In our owne City (more full of craft and deceit, then love or faithfull dealing) there lived not many yeeres since, a Gentlewoman of good spirit, highly minded, endued with beauty and all commendable qualities, as any other woman (by nature) could be. Her name, or any others, concerned in this Novel, I meane not to make manifest, albeit I know them, because some are yet living, and thereby may be scindalized; and therefore it shall suffice to passe them over with a smile. This Gentlewoman, seeing her selfe to be descended of very great parentage, and (by chance) married to an Artezan, a Cloathyer or Draper, that lived by the making and selling of cloth. Shee could not (because he was a Tradesman) take downe the height of her minde; conceiving, that no man of meane condition (how rich soever) was worthy to enjoy a Gentlewoman in marriage. Observing moreover, that with all his wealth and treasure, he understood nothing better, then to open skeines of yarne, fill shuttles lay webbes in his Loomes, or dispute with his Spinsters, about their businesse.
Being thus over-swayed with her proud opinion, she would no longer be embraced or regarded by him in any manner, saving only because she could not refuse him, but would find some other for her better satisfaction, who might seeme more worthy of her respect, then the Draper her Husband did. Heereupon shee fell so deepe in love with a verie honest man of our City also, and of indifferent yeeres, as what day shee saw him not, shee could take no rest the night ensuing. The man himselfe knew nothing hereof, and therefore was the more carelesse: and she being curious, nice, yet wisely considerate, durst not let him understand it, neither by any womans close conveyed message, nor yet by Letters, as fearing the perils which happen in such cases. But her eye observing his dayly walkes and resorts, gave her notice of his often conversing with a religious Friar, who albeit he was a fat and corpulent man, yet notwithstanding, because he seemed to leade a sanctimonious life, and was reported to be a most honest man, she perswaded her selfe, that he might be the best meanes betweene her and her friend.
Having considered with her selfe, what course was best to be observed in this case; uppon a day apt and convenient, she went to the Convent where he kept, and having caused him to be called, shee told him, that if his leysure so served, very gladly would she be confessed, and onely had made her choice of him. The holy man seeing her to be a Gentlewoman (as indeed she was) willingly heard her; and when she had confessed what she could, she had yet another matter to acquaint him withall, and thereupon thus she began.
Holy Father, it is no more then convenient that I should have recourse to you, to be assisted by your helpe and counsell, in a matter which I will impart unto you. I know, that you are not ignorant of my parents and husband, of whom I am affected as deerely as his life, for proofe whereof, there is not any thing that I can desire, but immediately I have it of him, he being a most rich man, and may very sufficiently affoord it. In regard whereof, I love him equally as my selfe, and (setting aside my best endevours for him) I must tell you one thing quite contrary to his liking and honour: no woman could more worthily deserve death, then my selfe. Understand then (good Father) that there is a man, whose name I know not, but he seemeth to be honest, and of good worth; moreover (if I am not deceived) he resorteth oftentimes to you, being faire and comely of person, going alwayes in blacke garments of good price and value. This man, imagining (perhaps) no such minde in mee, as truely there is; hath often attempted mee, and never can I be at my doore, or window, but hee is alwayes present in my sight, which is not a little displeasing to me; he watcheth my walks, and much I mervaile, that he is not now heere.
Let me tell you holy Sir, that such behaviours doe many times lay bad imputations upon very honest women, yet without any offence in them. It hath often run in my mind, to let him have knowledge thereof my min by my brethren: but afterward I considered, that men (many times) deliver messages in such sort, as draw on very ungentle answers, whereon grow words, and words beget actions. In which regard, because no harme or scandall should ensue, I thought it best to be silent; determining, to acquaint you rather therewith, then to any other, as wel because you seem to be his friend, as also in regard of your office, which priviledgeth you to correct such abuses, not onely in friends, but also in strangers. Enow other women there are, (more is the pitty) who perhaps are better disposed to such suites then I am, and can both like and allow of such courting, otherwise then I can doe; as being willing to embrace such offers, and (happily) loath to yeeld deniall. Wherefore, most humbly I entreate you good Father (even for our blessed Ladies sake) that you would give him a friendly reprehension, and advise him to use such unmanly meanes no more heereafter. With which words, she hung downe her bead in her bosome, cunningly dissembling, as if shee wept, wiping her eyes with her Handkerchife, when not a teare fel from them, but indeed were dry enough.
The holy Religious man, so soone as he heard her description of the man, presently knew whom shee meant, and highly commending the Gentlewoman for her good and vertuous seeming disposition, beleeved faithfully all that shee had said: promising her, to order the matter so well and discreetly, as shee should not any more bee offended. And knowing her to be a woman of great wealth (after all their usuall manner, when they cast forth their fishing nets for gaine:) liberally he commeuned Almesdeeds, and dayly workes of Charity, recounting to her beside his owne particular necessities. Then, giving him two peeces of Gold, she said: I pray you (good Father) to be mindfull of me, and if he chance to make any deniall, tell him, that I spake it my selfe to you, and by the way of a sad complaint her confession being ended, and penance easie enough enjoyned her, she promised to make her parents bountifull Benefactors to the Convent, and put more money into his hand, desiring him in his Masses, to remember the soules of her deceased friends, and so returned home to her house.
Within a short while after her departure, the Gentleman, of whome she made this counterfeit complaint, came thither, as was his usuall manner, and having done his duty to the holy Father, they sate downe together privately, falling out of one discourse into another. At the length, the Friar (in very loving and friendly sort) mildly reproved him for such amorous glaunces, and other pursuites, which (as he thought) he dayly used to the Gentlewoman, according to her owne speeches. The Gentleman mervalled greatly thereat, as one that had never seene her, and very sildome passed by the way where shee dwelt, which made him the bolder in his answeres; wherein the Confessour interrupting him, saide. Never make such admiration at the matter, neyther waste more words in deniall, because they cannot serve thy turne; I tell thee plainely, I heard these words even from her owne selfe, in a very sorowfull and sad complaint. And though (perhaps) heereafter, thou canst very hardly refraine such follies; yet let me tell thee so much of her (and under the seale of absolute assurance) that she is the onely woman of the world, who to my judgement, doth abhorre all such base behaviour. In regard therefore of thine owne honour, as also not to vex and prejudice so vertuous a Gentlewoman, I pray thee refraine such idlenesse henceforward, and suffer her to live in peace.
The Gentleman being a little wiser then his ghostly Father, perceived immediately, the notable pollicy of the Woman. Whereupon, making somewhat bashfull appearance of any error already committed, he said; He would afterward be better advised. So departing from the Friar, hee went on directly, to passe by the house where the Gentlewoman dwelt, and shee stood alwayes ready on her watch, at a little Window, to observe when he would walke that way. And seeing him comming, shee shewed her selfe so joyfull and gracious to him, as he easily understood, whereto the substance of the holy Fathers chiding tended. And from that time forward, he used dayly though in covert manner (to the no litle liking of the Gentlewoman and himselfe) to make his passage thorough that street, under colour of some important occasions there concerning him.
Soone after, it being plainely discerned on either side, that the one was as well contented with these walkes, as the other could be: she desired to enflame him a little further, by a more liberall illustration of her affection towards him, when time and place affoorded convenient opportunity. To the holy Father againe she went, (for she had beene too long from shrift) and kneeling downe at his feete, intended to begin her confession in teares; which the Friar perceiving, sorrowfully demanded of her; what accident had happened? Holy Father (quoth shee) no novell accident, only your wicked and ungracious friend, by whom (since I was heere with you, yea, no longer agoe then yesterday) I have been so wronged, as I verily beleeve that he was borne to bee my mortall enemy, and to make me do somthing to my utter disgrace for ever; and whereby I shall not dare to be seene any more of you my deare Father. How is this? answered the Friar, hath he not refrained from afflicting you so abusively?
Pausing a while, and breathing foorth many a dissembled sighe, thus shee replyed. No truely, holy Father, there is no likelyhood of his abstaining; for since I made my complaint to you, he belike taking it in evil part, to bee contraried in his wanton humours, hath (meerely in despight) walked seaven times in a day by my doore, whereas formerly he never used it above once or twice. And well were it (good Father) if he could be contented with those walkes, and gazing glances which hee dartes at me: but growne he is so bolde and shamelesse, that even yesterday, (as I tolde you) hee sent a woman to me, one of his Pandoraes, as it appeared, and as if I had wanted either Purses or Girdies, hee sent me by her, a Purse and a Girdle. Whereat I grew so greevously offended, as had it not bene for my due respect and feare of God, and next the sacred reverence I beare to you my ghostly Father, doubtlesse I had done some wicked deede. Neverthelesse, happily I withstood it, and wil neither say or do any thing in this case, till first I have made it knowne to you.
Then I called to minde, that having redelivered the Purse and Girdle to his shee-Messenger, which brought them with lookes sufficient to declare my discontentment: I called her backe againe, fearing least she would keep them to her selfe, and make him beleeve that I had received them (as I have heard such kinde of women use to do sometimes) and in anger I snatcht them from her, and have brought them you, to the end, that you may give him them againe; and tell him, I have no need of any such things, thankes be to heaven and my husband, as no woman can be better stored then I am. Wherefore good Father, purposely am I now come to you, to let him know, that if he will not abstaine from thus molesting me, I will disclose it to my Husband, Father, and Brethren, whatsoever befall. For I had rather he should receive the injury, then I to be causelessly blamed for him; wherein good Father tell me, if I dooe not well. With many counterfet sobbes, sighes, and teares these words were delivered; and drawing foorth from under her gowne, a very faire and rich purse, as also a Girdle of great worth, she threw them into the Friars lappe.
He verily beleeving all this false report, being troubled in his minde thereat beyond measure, tooke the Gentlewoman by the hand, saying: Daughter, if thou be offended at these impudent follies, assuredly I cannot blame thee, nor will any wiseman reproove thee for it; and I commend thee for following my counsell. But let me alone for schooling of my Gentleman, ill hath he kept his promise made to me; wherefore, in regard of his former offence, as also this other so lately committed, I hope to set him in such heate, as shall make him leave off from further injurying thee. Suffer not thy selfe to be conquerd by choller, in disclosing this to thy kindred or husband, because too much harme may ensue thereon. But feare not any wrong to thy selfe; for I am a true witnesse of thine honesty and vertue.
Now began she to seeme better comforted, and forbearing to play on this string any longer, as well knowing the covetousnes of him and his equals, she said: Holy Father, some few nights past, me thought in my sleepe, that divers spirits of my kindred appeared to me in a vision, who me thought were in very great pains, and desired nothing els but Almes; especially my Godmother, who seemed to be afflicted with such extrem poverty, that it was most Pittifull to behold. And I am halfe perswaded, that her torments are the greater, seeing me troubled with such an enemy to goodnesse. Wherefore (good Father) to deliver her soule and the others out of those fearfull flames, among your infinite other devout prayers, I would have you to say the forty Masses of S. Gregory, as a means for their happy deliverance, and so she put ten ducates into his hand. Which the holy man accepted thankfully, and with good words, as also many singular examples, confirmed her bountifull devotion: and when he had given her his benediction, home she departed.
After that the Gentlewoman was gone, hee sent for his friend whom she so much seemed to be troubled withall; and when he was come, hee beholding his Holy Father to looke discontentedly, thought, that now he should heare some newes from his Mistresse, and therefore expected what he would say. The Friar, falling into the course of his former reprehensions, but yet in more rough and impatient minner, sharpely checkt him for his immodest behaviour towards the Gentlewoman, in sending her the Purse and Girdle. The Gentleman, who as yet could not guesse whereto his speeches tended; somewhat coldly and temperately, denied the sending of such tokens to her, to the end that he would not bee utterly discredited with the good man, if so bee the Gentlewoman had shewne him any such things. But then the Frier, waxing much more angry, sternly said. Bad man as thou art, how canst thou deny a manifest truth? See sir, these are none of your amorous tokens? No, I am sure you doe not know them, nor ever saw them till now.
The Gentleman, seeming as if he were much ashamed, saide. Truely Father I do know them, and confesse that I have done ill, and very greatly offended: but now I will sweare unto you, seeing I understand how firmely she is affected, that you shall never heare any more complaint of me. Such were his vowes and protestations, as in the end the ghostly Father gave him both the Purse and Girdle: then after he had preached, and severely conjured him, never more to vexe her with any gifts at all, and he binding himselfe thereto by a solemne promise, he gave him license to depart. Now grew the Gentleman very jocond, being so surely certifyed of his Mistresses love, and by tokens of such worthy esteeme; wherefore no sooner was he gone from the Frier, but he went into such a secret place, where he could let her behold at her Window, what precious tokens he had received from her, whereof she was extraordinarily joyfull, because her devices grew still better and better; nothing now wanting, but her husbands absence, upon some journey from the City, for the full effecting of her desire.
Within a few dayes after, such an occasion hapned, as her husband of necessity must journey to Geneway; and no sooner was he mounted on horsebacke, taking leave of her and all his friends: but she, being sure he was gone, went in all hast to her Ghostly Father; and, after a few faigned outward shewes, thus she spake. I must now plainely tell you, holy Father, that I can no longer endure this wicked friend of yours; but because I promised you the other day, that I would not do any thing, before I had your counsell therein, I am now come to tell you, the just reason of my anger, and full purpose to avoid all further mollestation.
Your friend cannot terme him, but (questionlesse) a very divell of hell: this morning, before the breake of day, having heard (but how, I know not) that my husband was ridden to Geneway: got over the wall into my Garden, and climbing up a tree which standeth close before my Chamber window, when I was fast asleepe, opened the Casement, and would have entred in at the window. But, by great good fortune, I awaked, and made shew of an open outcry: but that he entreated me, both for Gods sake and yours, to pardon him this error, and never after he would presume any more to offend me. When he saw, that (for your sake) I was silent, he closed fast the window againe, departed as he came, and since I never saw him, or heard any tidings of him. Now Judge you, holy Father, whether these be honest courses or no, and to be endured by any civill Gentlewoman; neither would I so patiently have suffered this, but onely in my dutifull reverence to you.
The Ghostly Father hearing this, became the sorrowfullest man in the world, not knowing how to make her any answere, but only demanded of her divers times, whether she knew him so perfectly, that she did not mistake him for some other? Quoth she, I would I did not know him from any other. Alas deere daughter (replied the Frier) what can more be sayd in this case, but that it was over-much boldnesse, and very ill done, and thou shewedst thy selfe a worthy wise woman, in sending him away so mercifully, as thou didst. Once more I would entreat thee (deere and vertuous daughter) seeing grace hath hitherto kept thee from dishonor, and twice already thou hast credited my counsell, let me now advise thee this last time. Spare speech, or complaining to any other of thy friends, and leave-it to me, to try if I can overcome this unchained divell, whom I tooke to be a much more holy man. If I can recall him from this sensuall appetite, I shall account my labour well employed; but if I cannot do it, henceforward (with my blessed benediction) I give thee leave to do, even what thy heart will best tutor thee to. You see Sir (said shee) what manner of man he is, yet would I not have you troubled or disobeyed, only I desire to live without disturbance, which worke (I beseech you) as best you may: for I promise you, good Father, never to solicite you more uppon this occasion: And so, in a pretended rage, she returned backe from the ghostly Father.
Scarsely was she gone forth of the Church, but in commeth the man that had (supposedly) so much transgressed; and the Fryer taking him aside, gave him the most injurious words that could be used to a man, calling him disloyall, perjured, and a traitor. He who had formerly twice perceived, how high the holy mans anger mounted, did nothing but expect what he would say; and, like a man extreamly perplexed, strove how to get it from him, saying; Holy Father, how come you to be so heinously offended? What have I done to incense you so strangely? Heare me dishonest wretch answered the Frier, listen what I shall say unto thee. Thou answerest me, as if it were a yeare or two past, since so foule abuses were by thee committed, and they almost quite out of thy remembrance. But tell me wicked man; where wast thou this morning, before breake of the day? Wheresoever I was, replyed the Gentleman, mee thinkes the tidings come very quickly to you. It is true, said the Frier, they are speedily come to me indeed, and upon urgent necessity.
After a little curbing in of his wrath, somewhat in a milder straine, thus he proceeded. Because the Gentlewomans husband is journeyed to Geneway, proves this a ladder to your hope, that to embrace her in your armes, you must climbe over the Garden wall, like a treacherous robber in the night season, mount up a tree before her Chamber window, open the Casement, as hoping to compasse that by importunity, which her spotlesse chastity will never permit. There is nothing in the world, that she can hate more then you, and possibly yet you will love her whether [she] will or no. Many demonstrations her selfe hath made to you, how retrograde you are to any good conceit of her, and my loving admonishments might have had better successe in you, then as yet they shew of outward apparance. But one thing I must tell you, her silent sufferance of your injuries all this while, hath not bin in any respect of you, but at my earnest entreaties, and for my sake. But now she w be patient no longer, and I have given her free license, if ever heereafter you offer to attempt her any more, to make her complaint before her Brethren, which will redound to your no meane danger.
The Gentleman, having wisely collected his Love-lesson out of the Holy Fathers angry words, pacified the good old man so well as he could with very solemne promises and protestations, that he should heare no more) any misbehaviour of his. And being gone from him, followed the instructions given in her complaint, by climbing over the Garden Wall, ascending the Tree, and entering at the Casement, standing ready open to welcome him. Thus the Friers simplicity, wrought on by her most ingenious subtiltie, made way to obtaine both their longing desires.
After that Philomena had finished her Tale, she sate still; and Dioneus (with faire and pleasing Language) commended the Gentlewomans quaint cunning, but smiling at the Confessors witlesse simplicity. Then the Queene, turning with chearefull looks toward Pamphilus, commaunded him to continue on their delight; who gladly yeelded, and thus began. Madame, many men there are, who while they strive to climbe from a good estate, to a seeming better; doe become in much worse condition then they were before. As happened to a neighbour of ours, and no long time since, as the accident will better acquaint you withall.
According as I have heard it reported, neere to Saint Brancazio, there dwelt an honest man, and some-what rich, who was called Puccio di Rinieri, and who addicted all his paines and endeavours to Alchimy: wherefore, he kept no other family, but onely a widdowed daughter, and a servant; and because he had no other Art or exercise, he used often to frequent the market place. And in regard he was but a weake witted man and a gourmand or grosse feeder; his language was the more harsh and rude; like to our common Porters or sottish men, and his carriage also absurd, boore-like, and clownish. His daughter, being named Monna Isabetta, aged not above eight and twenty, or thirty yeeres; was a fresh indifferent faire, plumpe, round woman, cherry cheekt, like a Queene-Apple; and, to please her Father, fed not so sparingly, as otherwise she would have done, but when she communed or jested with any body, she would talke of nothing, but onely concerning the great vertue in Alchimy, extolling it above all other Arts.
Much about this season of the yeare, there returned a young Scholler from Paris, named Felice, faire of complexion, comely of person, ingeniously witted and skilfully learned, who (soone after) grew into familiarity, with Puccio: now because he could resolve him in many doubts, depending on his profession of Alchimy, (himselfe having onely practise, but no great learning) he used many questions to him, shewed him very especiall matters of secrecy, entertaining him often to dinners and suppers, whensoever he pleased to come and converse with him; and his daughter likewise, perceiving with what favour her Father respected him, became the more familiar with him, allowing him good regard and reverence.
The young man continuing his resort to the House of Puccio, and observing the widdow to be faire, fresh, and prettily formall; he began to consider with himselfe, what those things might be, wherein she was most wanting; and (if he could) to save anothers labour, supply them by his best endeavours. Thus not alwayes carrying his eyes before him, but using many backe and circumspect regards, he proceeded so farre in his wylie apprehensions, that (by a few sparkes close kept together) he kindled part of the same fire in her, which began to flame apparantly in him. And hee very wittily observing the same, as occasion first smiled on him, and allowed him favourable opportunity, so did hee impart his intention to her.
Now albeit he found her plyant enough, to gaine physicke for her owne griefe, as soone as his; yet the meanes and manner were (as yet) quite out of all apprehension. For shee in no other part of the World, would trust her selfe in the young mans company, but onely in her Fathers house; and that was a place out of all possibility, because Puccio (by a long continued custome) used to watch well-neere all the night, as commonly he did, each night after other, never stirring foorth of the roomes, which much abated the edge of the young mans appetite. After infinite intricate revolvings, wheeling about his busied braine, he thought it not altogether an Herculian taske, to enjoy his happinesse in the house, and without any suspition, albeit Puccio kept still within doores, and watched as hee was wont to doe.
Upon a day as he sate in familiar conference with Puccio, he began to speake unto him in this manner; I have many times noted, kinde friend Puccio, that all thy desire and endeavour is, by what meanes thou mayst become very rich, wherein (me thinkes) thou takest too wide a course, when there is a much neerer and shorter way, which Mighell Scotus, and other his associates, very diligently observed and followed, yet were never willing to instruct other men therein; whereby the mysterie might bee drowned in oblivion, and prosecuted by none but onely great Lords, that are able to undergoe it. But because thou art mine especiall friend, and I have received from thee infinite kind favours; whereas I never intended, that any man (by me) should be acquainted with so rare a secret; if thou wilt imitate the course as I shall shew thee, I purpose to teach it thee in full perfection. Puccio being very earnestly desirous to understand the speediest way to so singular a mysterie, first began to entreat him (with no meane instance) to acquaint him with the rules of so rich a Science; and afterward sware unto him, never to disclose it to any person, except hee gave his consent thereto; affirming beside, that it was a rarity, not easie to bee comprehended by very apprehensive judgements. Well (quoth Felice) seeing thou has: made me such a sound and solemne promise, I will make it knowne unto thee.
Know then friend Puccio, the Philosophers do hold, that such as covet to become rich indeed, must understand how to make the Stone: as I will tell thee how, but marke the manner very heedfully. I do not say, that after the Stone is obtained, thou shalt bee even as rich as now thou art; but thou shalt plainly perceive, that the very grosest substances, which hitherto thou hast seene, all of them shalbe made pure golde: and such as afterward thou makest, shall be more certaine, then to go or come with Aqua fortis, as now they do. Most expedient is it therefore, that when a man will go diligently about this businesse, and purposeth to prosecute such a singular labour, which will and must continue for the space of 40 nights, he must give very carefull attendance, wholly abstaining from sleepe, slumbering, or so much as nodding all that while.
Moreover, in some apt and convenient place of thy house, there must be a forge or furnace erected, framed in decent and formall fashion, and neere it a large table placed, ordered in such sort, as standing upright on feete, and leaning the reines of thy backe against it; thou must stande stedfastly in that manner every night, without the least motion or stirring, untill the breake of day appeareth, and thine eyes still uppon the Furnace fixed, to keepe ever in memory, the true order which I have prescribed. So soone as the morning is seene, thou mayest (if thou wilt) walke, or rest a little upon thy bed, and afterward go about thy businesse, if thou have any. Then go to dinner, attending readily till the evenings approch, preparing such things as I will readily set thee downe in writing, without which there is not any thing to bee done; and then returne to the same taske againe, not varying a jot from the course directed. Before the time be fully expired, thou shalt perceive many apparant signes, that the stone is still in absolute forwardnesse, but it will bee utterly lost if thou fayle in the least of all the observances. And when the experience hath crowned thy labour, thou art sure to have the Philosophers stone, and thereby shalt be able to enrich all, and worke wonders beside.
Puccio instantly replyed. Now trust me Sir, there is no great difficultie in this labour, neither doth it require any extraordinary length of time: but it may very easily be followed and performed, and (by your friendly favor, in helping to direct the Furnace and Table, according as you imagine most convenient) on Sunday at night next, I will begin my taske. The place which Puccio had chosen, for his hopefull attaining to the Philosophers Stone, was close to the Chamber where his daughter lay having no other separation or division, but an old ruinous tottring wall. So that, when the Scholler was playing his prize, Puccio heard an unwonted noise in the house, which he had never observed before, neither knew the wall to have any such motion: wherefore, not daring to stirre from his standing, least all should be marrd in the very beginning, he called to his daughter, demanding, what busle labour she was about? The widdow, being much addicted to frumping according as questions were demanded of her, and (perhaps) forgetting who spake to her, pleasantly replied: Whoop Sir, where are we now? Are the Spirits of Alchimy walking in the house, that we cannot lye quietly in our beds?
Pucclo mervalling at this answere, knowing she never gave him the like before; demanded againe, what she did? The subtle wench, remembring that she had not answered as became her, said: Pardon mee Father, my wits were not mine owne, when you demanded such a sodaine question; and I have heard you say an hundred times, that when folke go supperles to bed, either they walke in their sleepe, or being awake, talke very idely, as (no doubt) you have discern'd by me. Nay daughter (quoth he) it may be, that I was in a waking dreame, and thought I heard the olde wall totter: but I see I was deceived, for no it is quiet and still enough. Talke no more good Father, saide she, least you stirre from your place, and hinder your labour: take no care for mee, I am able enough to have care of my selfe.
To prevent any more of these nightly disturbances, they went to lodge in another part of the house, where they continued out the time of Puccioes paines, with equall contentment to them both, which made her divers times say to Felice: You teach my father the cheefe grounds of Alchimy, while we helpe to waste away his treasure. Thus the Scholler being but poore, yet well forwarded in Learning, made use of Puccioes folly, and found benefit thereby, to keepe him out of wants, which is the bane and overthrow of numberlesse good wits. And Puccio dying, before the date of his limited time, because he failed of the Philosophers Stone, Isabetta joyned in marriage with Felice, to make him amends for instructing her father, by which meanes he came to be her husband.[ Hide Fourth Novell ]
Pamphilus having ended his novell of Puccio the Alchimist, the Queene fixing her eye on Madam Eliza, gave order, that shee should succeed. She looking somewhat more austerely then any of the rest not in any spleen, but as it was her usuall manner, thus began. The world containeth some particular people, who beleeve (because they know something) that others are ignorant in all things, who for the most part, while they intend to make a scorne of other men, upon triall, finde themselves to carry away the scorne. Therefore, I account it no meane folly in them, who (upon no occasion) wil tempt the power of another mans wit or experience. But because all men and women are not of my opinion; I meane that you shall perceive it more apparantly, by an accident happening to a Knight of Pistoia, as you shall heare by me related.
In the Town of Pistoia, bordering upon Florence, there lived not long since, a Knight named Signieur Francesco, descended of the linage or family of the Vergellisi, a man very rich, wise, and in many things provident, but gripple, covetous, and too close handed, without respect to his worth and reputation. He being called to the Office of Podesta in the City of Millaine, furnished himselfe with all things (in honourable manner) beseeming such a charge; onely, a comely horse for his owne saddle excepted, which he knew not by any meanes how to compasse, so loath hee was lay out money, albeit his credit much depended thereon.
At the same time, there lived in Pistoya likewise, a young man, named Ricciardo, derived of meane birth, but very wealthy, quicke witted, and of commendable person, alwayes going so neate, fine, and formall in his apparrell, that he was generally tearmed the Magnifico, who had long time affected, yea, and closely courted, (though any advantage or successe) the Lady and wife of Signior Francesco, who was very beautifull, vertuous, and chaste. It so chanced, that this Magnifico had the very choisest and goodliest ambling Gelding in all Tuscany, which hee loved dearely, for his faire forme, and other good parts. Upon a flying rumor throughout Pistoia, that he daily made love to the foresaid Ladie, some busie-body put it into the head of Signior Francesco, that if he pleased to request the Gelding, the Magnifico would frankely give it him, in regard of the love he bare to his wife.
The base-minded Knight, coveting to have the Horse, and yet not to part with any money, sent for the Magnifico, desiring to buy his fayre Gelding of him, because he hoped to have him of free gift. The Magnifico hearing this request, was very joyfull, and thus answered; Sir, if you would give me all the wealth which you possesse in this world, I wil not sell you my horse, rather I wil bestow him on you as a Gentlemans gift: but yet upon this condition, that before you have him delivered, I may with your license, and in your presence speake a few words to your vertuous Ladie, and so farre off in distance from you, as I may not be heard by any, but onely her selfe. Signior Francesco, wholly conducted by his base avaricious desire, and meaning to make a scorne at the Magnifico, made answer, that he was well contented to let him speak with her when he would; and leaving him in the great Hall of the house, went to his wives Chamber, and told her how easily he might enjoy the horse, commanding her forthwith to come and heare what he could say to her, only she should abstaine, and not returne him any answer. The Lady with a modest blush, much condemned this folly in him, that his covetousnes should serve as a cloake to cover any unfitting speeches which her chaste eares could never endure to heare. Neverthelesse being to obey her husbands will, she promised to do it, and followed him down into the Hall, to heare what the Magnifico would say. Againe he there confirmed the bargaine made with her husband, and sitting downe by her in a corner of the Hall, farre enough off from any ones hearing, taking her curteously by the hand, thus he spake.
Worthy Lady, it seemeth to me, that you are so truly wise, as no doubt you have long since perceived, what unfeigned affection your beauty (far excelling) hath compelled me to beare you. Setting aside those commendable qualities and singular vertues gloriously shining in you, and powerfull enough to make a conquest of the stoutest courage, I held it utterly needlesse, to let you understand by words, how faithfull the love is I bear you, were it not much more fervent and constant, then ever any other man can expresse to a woman. In which condition it shall still continue, without the least blemish or impayre, so long as I enjoy life or motion; yea, and I dare assure you, that if in the future world, affection may containe the same powerfull dominion, as it doth in this; I am the man borne to love you perpetually. Whereby you may rest confidently perswaded, that you enjoy not any thing, how poore or precious soever it be, which you can so solemnely account to be your owne, and in the truest title of right, as you may my selfe, in all that I have, or for ever shall be mine.
To confirme your opinion in this case by any argument of greater power, let me tell you, that I should repute it as my fairest and most gracious fortune, if you would command me some such service, as consisteth in mine ability to performe, and in your courteous favour to accept, yea, if it were thorow the whole world, right to traval am I, and obedient. In which regard faire Madam, if I be so much, yours, as you heare I am, I may boldly adventure (and not without good reason) to acquaint your chaste eares with my earnest desires, for on you onely depends my happinesse, life, and absolute comfort, and as your most humble servant, I beseech you (my deerest good, and sole hope of my soule) that rigour may dwell no longer in your gentle brest, but Lady-like pitty and compassion, whereby I shall say, that as your divine beauty enflamed mine affections, even so it extended such a merciful qualification, is exceeded all my hope, but not the halfe part of your pitty.
Admit (myracle of Ladies) that I should die in this distresse: Alas, my death would be but your dishonour; I cannot be termed mine owne murtherer, when the Dart came from your eye that did it, and must remaine a witnes of your rigor. You cannot then chuse but call to minde, and say within your own soule: Alas, what a sinne have I committed, in being so unmercifull to my Magnifico. Repentance then serves to no purpose, but you must answer for such unkinde cruelty. Wherefore, to prevent so blacke a scandall to your bright beauty, beside the ceaselesse acclamations, which will dog your walkes in the day time, and breake your quiet sleepes in the night season, with fearefull sights and gastly apparitions, hovering and haunting about your bed; let all these moove you to milde mercy, and spill not life, when you may save it.
So the Magnifico ceasing, with teares streaming from his eyes, and sighes breaking from his heart, hee sate still in expectation of the Ladies answere, who made neither long or short of the matter, neither Tilts nor Tourneying, nor many lost mornings and evenings, nor infinite other such like Offices, which the Magnifico (for her sake) from time to time had spent in vaine, without the least shew of acceptation, or any hope at all to winne her love: mooved now in this very houre, by these solemne is protestations, or rather most prevailing asseverations, she began to finde that in her, which (before) she never felt, namely Love. And although (to keepe her promise made to her husband) shee spake not a word: yet her heart heaving, her soule throbbing, sighes intermixing, and complexion altering, could not hide her intended answer to the Magnifico, if promise had beene no hinderance to her will. All this while the Magnifico sate as mute as she, and seeing she would not give him any answere at all, he could not choose but wonder thereat, yet at length perceived, that it was thus cunningly contrived by her husband. Notwithstanding, observing well her countenance, that it was in a quite contrary temper, another kinde of fire sparkling in her eye, other humours flowing, her pulses strongly beating, her stomacke rising, and sighes swelling, all these were arguments of a change, and motives to advance his hope. Taking courage by this ticklish perswasion, and instructing his mind with a new kinde of counsell; he would needes answer himselfe on her behalfe, and as if she had uttered the words, thus he spake.
Magnifico, and my friend, surely it is a long time since, when I first noted thine affection toward me to be very great and most perfect, but now I am much more certain thereof, by thine owne honest and gentle speeches, which content me as they ought to do. Neverthelesse, if heretofore I have seemed cruell and unkinde to thee, I would not have thee thinke, that my heart was any way guilty of my outward severity, but did evermore love thee, and held thee deerer then any man living. But yet it became me to do so, as well in feare of others, as for the renowne of mine owne reputation. But now is the time at hand, to let thee knowe more clearly, whether I do affect thee or no: as a just guerdon of thy constant love which long thou hast, and still doest beare to me. Wherefore, comfort thy selfe, and dwell on this undoubted hope, because Signior Francesco my husband, is to be absent hence for many dayes, beeing chosen Podesta at Millaine, as thou canst not choose but heare, for it is common through the Country.
I know (for my sake) thou hast given him thy goodly ambling Gelding, and so soone as he is gone, I promise thee upon my word, and by the faithfull love I beare thee; that I will have further conference with thee, and let thee understand somewhat more of my minde. And because this is neither fitting time nor place, to discourse on matters of such serious moment: observe heereafter, as a signall, when thou seest my Crimson Skarfe hanging in the window of my Chamber, which is upon the Garden side, that evening (so soone as it is night) come to the Garden gate, with wary respect that no eye do discover thee, and there thou shalt finde me walking, and ready to acquaint thee with other matters, according as I shall finde occasion.
When the Magnifico in the person of the Lady, had spoken thus, then he returned her this answer. Most vertuous Lady, my spirits are so transported with extraordinary joy, for this your gracious and welcome answer, that my sences faile me, and all my faculties quite forsake me, that I cannot give you such thankes as I would. And if I could speak equally to my desire, yet the season suites not therewith, neither were it convenient that I should be so troublesome to you. Let me therefore humbly beseech you, that the desire I have to accomplish your will (which wordes availe not to expresse) may remaine in your kinde consideration. And as you have commanded me, so will I not faile to performe it accordingly, and in more thankfull manner, then (as yet) I am able to let you know. Now there resteth nothing else to do, but under the protection of your gracious pardon, I to give over speech, and you to attend your woorthy Husband.
Notwithstanding all that hee had spoken, yet shee replyed not one word; wherefore the Magnifico arose, and returned to the Knight, who went to meete him, saying in a lowd laughter. How now man? Have I not kept my promise with thee? No Sir, answered the Magnifico, for you promised I should speake with your wife, and you have made mee talke to a marble Statue. This answere, was greatly pleasing to the Knight, who, although hee had an undoubted opinion of his wife; yet this did much more strengthen his beliefe, and hee said. Now thou confessest thy Gelding to bee mine? I doe, replied the Magnifico, but if I had thought, that no better successe would have ensued on the bargaine; without your motion for the horse, I would have given him you: and I am sorie that I did not, because now you have bought my horse, and yet I have not sold him. The Knight laughed heartily at this answer, and being thus provided of so faire a beast, hee rode on his journey to Millaine, and there entred into his authority of Podesta.
The Lady remained now in liberty at home, considering on the Magnificoes words, and likewise the Gelding, which (for her sake) was given to her husband. Oftentimes shee saw him passe too and fro before her windowe, still looking when the Flagge of defiance should be hanged forth, that hee might fight valiantly under her Colours. The Story saith, that among many of her much better meditations, shee was heard to talke thus idely to her selfe. What doe I meane? Wherefore is my youth? The olde miserable man is gone to Millaine, and God knoweth when hee comes backe againe, ever, or never. Is dignity preferred before wedlockes holy duty, and pleasures abroade, more then comforts at home? Ill can age pay youths arrerages, when: time is spent, and no hope sparde. Actions omitted, are oftentimes repented, but done in due season, they are sildome sorrowed for. Upon these un-Lady-like private consultations, whether the window shewed the signa or no; it is no matter belonging to my charge: I say, husbands are unwise, to graunt such ill advantages, and wives much worse, if they take hold of them, onely Judge you the best, and so the Tale is ended.[ Hide Fift Novell ]
No more remained to be spoken by Madame Eliza, but the cunning of the Magnifico, being much commended by all the company: the Queene commanded Madame Fiammetta, to succede next in order with one of her Novels, who (smiling) made answer that shee would, and began thus. Gracious Ladies, mee thinkes wee have spoken enough already, concerning our owne Citie, which as it aboundeth copiously in all commodities, so is it an example also to every convenient purpose. And as Madam Eliza hath done, by recounting occasions happening in another World, so must we now leape a little further off, even so far as Naples, to see how one of those Saint-like Dames that nicely seemes to shun loves allurings, was guided by the good spirit to a friend of hers, and tasted of the fruite, before she knew the flowers. A sufficient warning for you to apprehend before hand what may follow after, and to let you see beside, that when an error is committed, how to bee discreete in keeping it from publike knowledge.
In the Citie of Naples, it being of great antiquity, and (perhaps) as pleasantly situated, as any other City in all Italy, there dwelt sometime a yong Gentleman, of noble parentage, and well knowne to bee wealthy, named Ricciardo Minutolo, who although hee had a Gentlewoman of excellent beuty, and worthy the verie kindest affecting to his wife; yet his gadding eye gazed elsewhere, and he became enamored of another, which (in generall opinion) surpassed all the Neapolitane Women else, in feature, favour, and the choysest perfections, shee being named Madam Catulla wife to as gallant a young Gentleman, called Philippello Fighinolfi, who most dearly he loved beyond all other, for her vertue and admired chastity.
Ricciardo loving this Madam Catulla, and using all such means whereby the grace and liking of a Lady might be obtained; found it yet a matter beyond possibility, to compasse the height of his desire: so that many desperate and dangerous resolutions beleagred his braine, seeming so intricate and unlikely to affoord any hopefull yssue, as hee wished for nothing more then death.
And death (as yet) being deafe to all his earnest imprecations, delayed him on in lingering afflictions: and continuing still in such an extreame condition, he was advised by some of his best friends, utterly to abstaine from this fond pursuit, because his hopes were meerely in vaine, and Madam Catulla prized nothing more precious to her in the World, then unstayned loyaltie to her Husband: and yet shee lived in such extreame jealousie of him, as fearing least some bird flying in the ayre should snatch him from her.
Ricciardo not unacquainted with this her jealous humour, as well by credible hearing thereof, as also by daily observation, began to with himselfe, that it were best to consider for him, to dissemble amorous affection in some other place, and (henceforward) to set aside all hope, of ever enjoying the love of Madam Catulla, because he was now become the servant to another Gentlewoman, pretending (in her honour) to performe many worthy actions of Armes, Joustes, Tournaments, and all such like noble exercises, as he was wont to doe for Madam Catulla. So that most of the people of Naples, but especially Madam Catulla, becam perswaded, that his former fruitlesse love to her was quite changed, and the new elected Lady had all the glory of his best endevours, persevering so long in this opinion, as now it passed absolutely for currant. Thus seemed he now as meere a stranger to her, whose house before he familiarly frequented, yet as a neighbour gave her the daies salutations, according as he chanced to see her, or meet her.
It came so to passe, that it being now the delightfull Summer season, when all Gentlemen and Gentlewomen used to meete together (according to a custome long observed in that Country) sporting along on the Sea Coast, dining and supping there very often, Ricciardo Minutolo happened to heare, that Madam Catulla (with a company of her friends) intended also to be present there among them; at which time, consorted with a seemely traine of his confederates, he resorted thither, and was graciously welcommed by Madam Catulla, where he pretended no willing long time of tarrying, but that Catulla and the other Ladies were faine to entreate him, discoursing of his love to his new elected Mistresse: which Minutolo graced with so solemne a countenance, as it ministred much more matter of conference, all coveting to know what she was.
So farre they walked, and held on this kinde of discoursing, as every Lady and Gentlewoman, waxing weary of too long a continued argument, began to separate her selfe with such an associate as shee best liked, and as in such walking women are wont to doe; so that Madam Catulla having few females left with her, stayed behind with Minutolo, who sodainly shot forth a word concerning her husband Philipello, and of his loving another woman beside her selfe. She that was overmuch jealous before, became so sodainely set on fire to know what shee was of whom Minutolo spake, as she sat silent a long while, til being able to containe no longer, shee entreated Ricciardo even for the Ladies sake, whose love he had so devoutly embraced, to resolve her certainly in this strange alteration of her husband; whereunto thus he answered.
Madam, you have so straitly concured me, by urging the remembrance of her; for whose sake I am not able to deny any thing you can demand, as I am readie therein to pleasure you. But first you must promise me, that neither you, or any other person for you, shall at any time disclose it to your Husband, untill you have seene by effect, that which I have told you proveth to be true: and when you please, I wil instruct you how your selfe shall see it. The Ladie was not a little joyfull to be thus satisfied in her Husbands folly, and constantly crediting his words to be true, shee sware a solemne oath, that no one alive should ever know it. So stepping a little further aside, because no listening eare should heare him, thus he beganne.
Lady, if I did love you now so effectually as heeretofore I have done, I should be very circumspect, in uttering any thing which I immagined might distast you. I know not whether your husband Philipello, were at any time offended, because I affected you, or beleeved that I received any kindnes from you: but whether it were so or no, I could never discerne it by any outward apparance. But now awaiting for the opportunity of time, which he conceived should affoord me the least suspition, he seekes to compasse that, which (I doubt) he feares I would have done to him, in plaine termes Madam, to have his pleasure of my wife. And as by some carriages I have observed, within few daies past he hath solicited and pursued his purpose very secretly, by many Ambassages, and meanes, as (indeed) I have learned from her selfe, and alwaies she hath returned in such answers, as she receyved by my direction.
And no longer ago Madam, then this very morning, before my comming hither, I found a woman-messenger in my house, in very close conference with my Wife, when growing doubtfull of that which was true indeede, I called my Wife, enquiring, what the woman would have with her; and she told me, it was another pursuite of Philipello Fighinolfi, who (quoth shee) upon such answers as you have caused me to send him from time to time, perhappes doth gather some hope of prevailing in the end, which maketh him still to importune me as he doth. And now he adventureth so farre, as to understand my finall intention, having thus ordered his complot, that when I please, I must meet him secretly in a house of this City, where he hath prepared a Bath ready for me, and hopeth to enjoy the end of his desire, as very earnestly he hath solicited me thereto. But if you had not commanded me, to hold him in suspense with so many frivolous answers, I would ere this, have sent him such a message, as should have bene little to his liking.
With patience Madam I endured all before, but now (me thinkes) he proceedeth too farre, which is not any way to be suffered; and therefore I intended to let you know it, that you may perceive, how wel you are rewarded for the faithfull and loyall love you beare him, and for which, I was even at deaths dore. Now, because you may be the surer of my speeches, not to be any lyes or fables, and that you may (if you please) approve the truth by your owne experience, I caused my wife to send him word, that she would meet him to morrow at the Bathing-house appointed, about the houre of noone-day, when people repose themselves in regard of the heates violence; with which answer the woman returned very jocondly. Let me now tell you Lady, I hope you have better opinion of my wit, then any meaning in me, to send my wife thither; I rather did it to this end, that having acquainted you with his treacherous intent, you should supply my wives place, by saving both his reputation and your owne, and frustrating his unkind purpose to me. Moreover, upon the view of his owne delusion, wrought by my wife in meere love to you, he shall see his foule shame, and your most noble care, to keepe the rites of marriage betweene you still unstained.
Madame Catulla, having heard this long and unpleasing report, without any consideration, either what he was that tolde the tale, or what a treason he intended against her: immediately (as jealous persons use to doe) she gave faith to his forgerie, and began to discourse many things to him, which imagination had often misguided her in, against her honest minded husband, and enflamed with rage, suddenly replied; that shee would doe according as he had advised her, as being a matter of no difficulty. But if he came, she would so shame and dishonour him, as no woman whatsoever should better schoole him. Ricciardo highly pleased herewith, and being perswaded, that his purpose would take the full effect: confirmed the Lady in her determination with many words more; yet putting her in memory, to keepe her faithfull promise made, without revealing the matter to any living person, as shee had sworne upon her faith.
On the morrow morning, Ricciardo went to an auncient woman of his acquaintance, who was the Mistresse of a Bathing-house, and there where he had appointed Madame Catulla, that the Bath should bee prepared for her, giving her to understand the whole businesse, and desiring her to be favourable therein to him. The woman, who had beene much beholding to him in other matters, promised very willingly to fulfill his request, concluding with him, both what should be done and said. She had in her house a very darke Chamber, without any window to affoord it the least light, which Chamber she had made ready, according to Ricciardoes direction, with a rich Bed thereir, so soft and delicate as possible could bee, wherein he entred so soone as he had dined, to attend the arrivall of Madame Catulla. On the same day, as she had heard the speeches of Ricciardo, and gave more credit to them then became her; shee returned home to her house in wonderfull impatience. And Philippello her husband came home discontentedly too, whose head being busied about some worldly affaires, perhaps he looked not so pleasantly, neither used her so kindly, as he was wont to doe. Which Catulla perceiving, shee was ten times more suspicious then before, saying to her selfe. Now apparent trueth doth disclose it selfe, my husbands head is troubled now with nothing else, but Ricciardoes wife, with whom (to morrow) he purposeth his meeting; wherein he shall be disappointed, if I live; taking no rest at all the whole night, for thinking how to handle her husband.
What shall I say more? On the morrow, at the houre of mid-day accompanied onely with her Chamber-mayde, and without any other alteration in opinion; shee went to the house where the Bath was promised, and meeting there with the olde woman, demaunded of her, if Philippello were come thither as yet or no? The woman, being well instructed by Ricciardo, answered: Are you shee that should meete him heere? Yes, replied Catulla. Goe in then to him (quoth the woman) for he is not farre off before you.
Madame Catulla, who went to seeke that which shee would not finde, being brought vailed into the darke Chamber where Ricciardo was, entred into the Bath, hoping to finde none other there but her husband, and the custome of the Country, never disallowed such meetings of men with their wives, but held them to be good and commendable. In a counterfeit voyce he bad her welcome, and she, not seeming to be any other then shee was indeed, entertained his imbracings in as loving manner; yet not daring to speake, least he should know her, but suffered him to proceede in his owne errour.
Let passe the wanton follies passing betweene them, and come to Madame Catulla, who finding it a fit and convenient time, to vent forth the tempest of her spleene, began in this manner. Alas! how mighty, are the misfortunes of women, and how ill requited is all the loyall love of many wives to their husbands? I, a poore miserable Lady, who, for the space of eight yeeres now fully compleated, have loved thee: more dearely then mine owne life, finde now (to my hearts endlesse griefe) how thou wastest and consumest thy desires, to delight them with a strange woman, like a most vile and wicked man as thou art. With whom doest thou now imagine thy selfe to be? Thou art with her, whom thou hast long time deluded by false blandishments, feigning to affect her, when thou doatest in thy desires else-where. I am thine owne Catulla, and not the wife of Ricciardo, trayterous and unfaithfull man, as thou art. I am sure thou knowest my voyce, and I thinke it a thousand yeeres, until wee may see each other in the light, to doe thee such dishonour as thou justly deservest, dogged, disdainfull, and villainous wretch. By conceiving to have another woman in thy wanton embraces thou hast declared more joviall disposition, and demonstrations of farre greater kindnesse, then domesticke familiarity. At home thou lookest sower, sullen or surly, often froward, and seldome well pleased. But the best is, whereas thou intendest this husbandrie for another mans ground, thou hast (against thy will) bestowed it on thine owne, and the water hath runne a contrary course, quite from the current where thou meantst it.
What answer canst thou make, devill, and no man? What, have my words smitten thee dumbe? Thou mayest (with shame enough) hold thy peace, for with the face of a man, and love of an husband to his wife, thou art not able to make any answere.
Ricciardo durst not speake one word, but still expressed his affable behaviour towards her, bestowing infinite embraces and kisses on her: which so much the more augmented her rage and anger, continuing on her chiding thus. If by these flatteries and idle follies, thou hopest to comfort or pacifie me, thou runnest quite by as from thy reckoning; for I shall never imagine my selfe halfe satisfied, untill in the presence of my parents, friends, and neighbours, I have revealed thy base behaviour. Tell mee, treacherous man, am not I as faire, as the wife of Ricciardo? Am I not as good a Gentlewoman borne, as shee is? What canst thou more respect in her, then is in mee? Villaine, monster, why doest thou not answere mee? I will send to Ricciardo, who loveth mee beyond all other women in Naples, and yet could never vaunt, that I gave him so much as a friendly looke: he shall know, what a dishonour thou hadst intended towards him; which both he and his friends will revenge soundly upon thee. The exclamations of the Lady were so tedious and irksome, that Ricciardo perceiving, if shee continued longer in these complaints, worse would ensue thereon, then could bee easily remedied: resolved to make himselfe knowne unto her, to reclaime her out of this violent extasie, and holding her somewhat strictly, to prevent her escaping from him, he said. Madam, afflict your selfe no further, for, what I could not obtaine by simply loving you, subtilty hath better taught me, and I am your Ricciardo: which she hearing, and perfectly knowing him by his voyce; shee would have leapt out of the Bath, but shee could not, and to avoyde her crying out, he layde his hand on her mouth, saying. Lady, what is done, cannot now be undone, albeit you cried out all your life time. If you exclaime, or make this knowne openly by any meanes; two unavoydable dangers must needes ensue thereon. The one (which you ought more carefully to respect) is the wounding of your good renowne and honour, because, when you shall say, that by treacherie I drew you hither: I will boldly maintaine the contrary, avouching, that having corrupted you with gold, and not giving you so much as covetously you desired; you grew offended, and thereon made the outcry, and you are not to learne, that the world is more easily induced to beleeve the worst, then any goodnesse, be it never so manifest. Next unto this, mortall hatred must arise betweene your husband and mee, and (perhaps) I shall as soone kill him, as he me; whereby you can hardly, live in any true contentment after. Wherefore, joy of my life, doe not in one moment, both shame your selfe, and cause such perill betweene your husband and me: for you are not the first, neither can be the last, that shall be deceived. I have not beguiled you, to take any honour from you, but onely declared, the faithfull affection I beare you, and so shall doe for ever, as being your bounden and most obedient servant; and as it is a long time agoe, since I dedicated my selfe and all mine to your service, so hence-forth must I remaine for ever. You are wise enough (I know) in all other things: then shew your selfe not to be silly or simple in this.
Ricciardo uttered these words, teares streaming aboundantly downe his cheekes, and Madame Catulla (all the while) likewise showred forth her sorrowes equally to his, now, although she was exceedingly troubled in mind, and saw what her owne jealous folly had now brought her to, a shame beyond all other whatsoever: in the middest of her tormenting passions, shee considered on the words of Ricciardo, found good reason in them, in regard of the unavoydable evils whereupon shee thus spake. Ricciardo, I know not how to beare the horrible injurie, and notorious treason used by thee against me, grace and goodnesse having so forsaken me, to let me fall in so foule a manner. Nor becommeth it me, to make any noyse or out-cry heere, whereto simplicity, or rather devillish jealousie, did conduct me. But certaine I am of one thing, that I shall never see any one joyfull day, till (by one meanes or other) I bee reverged on thee. Thou hast glutted thy desire with my disgrace, let me therefore go from thee, never more to looke upon my wronged husband, or let any honest woman ever see my face.
Ricciardo perceiving the extremity of her perplexed minde, used all manly and milde perswasions, which possibly he could devise to doe, to turne the torrent of this high tide, to a calmer course; as by outward shew shee made appearance of, untill (in frightfull feares shunning every one shee met withall, as arguments of her guiltinesse) shee recovered her owne house, where remorse so tortured her distressed soule, that she fell into so fierce a melancholy, as never left her till shee died. Upon the report whereof, Ricciardo becomming likewise a widdower, and grieving extraordinarily for his haynous transgression, penitently betooke himselfe to live in a wildernesse, where (not long after) he ended his dayes.[ Hide Sixt Novell ]
So ceased Fiammetta her discourse, being generally commended, when the Queene, to prevent the losse of time, commanded Aemillia to follow next, who thus began. It liketh me best (gracious Ladies) to returne home againe to our owne City, which it pleased the former two discoursers to part from: And there I will shew you, how a Citizen of ours, recovered the kindnesse of his Love, after hee had lost it.
Sometime there dwelt in Florence a young Gentleman, named Theobaido Elisei, descended of a noble House, who became earnestly enamoured of a Widdow, called Hermelina, the daughter to Aldobrandino Palermini: well deserving, for his vertues and commendable qualities, to enjoy of her whatsoever he could desire. Secretly they were espoused together, but Fortune, the enemy to Lovers felicities, opposed her malice against them, in depriving Theobaldo of those deere delights, which sometime he held in free possession, and making him as a stranger to her gracious favours. Now grew shee contemptibly to despise him, not onely denying to heare any message sent from him, but scorning also to vouch safe so much as a sight of him, causing in him extreme griefe and melancholy, yet concealling all her unkindnesse so wisely to himselfe, as no one could understand the reason of his sadnesse.
After he had laboured by all hopefull courses, to obtaine that favour of her, which he had formerly lost, without any offence in him, as his innocent soule truly witnessed with him, and saw that all his further endeavours were fruitlesse and in vaine; he concluded to retreate himselfe from the World, and not to be any longer irkesome in her eye, that was the onely occasion of his unhappinesse. Hereupon, storing himselfe with summes of money, as suddenly he could collect together, secretly he departed from Florence, without speaking any word to his friends or kindred; except one kinde companion of his, whom he acquainted with most of his secrets, and so travelled to Ancona, where he termed himselfe by the name of Sandoloscio. Repairing to a wealthy Merchant there, he placed himselfe as his servant, and went in a Ship of his with him to Cyprus; his actions and behaviour proved so pleasing to the Merchant, as not onely he allowed him very sufficient wages, but also grew into such association with him; as he gave the most of his affaires into his hands, which he guided with such honest and discreete care, that hee himselfe (in few yeeres compasse) proved to be a rich Merchant, and of famous report.
While matters went on in this successefull manner, although he could not chuse, but still he remembred his cruell Mistresse, and was very desperately transported for her love, as coveting (above all things else) to see her once more; yet was he of such powerfull constancy, as 7 whole yeeres together, he vanquished all those fierce conflicts. But on a day it chanced he heard a song sung in Cyprus, which he himselfe had formerly made, in honour of the love he bare to his Mistresse, and what delight he conceived, by being dayly in her presence; whereby he gathered, that it was impossible for him to forget her, and proceeded on so desirously, as he could not live, except he had a sight of her once more, and therefore determined on his returne to Florence. Having set all his affaires in due order, accompanied with a servant of his onely, he passed to Ancona, where when he was arrived, he sent his Merchandises to Florence, in name of the Merchant of Ancona, who was his especiall friend and partner; travayling himselfe alone with his servant, in the habite of a Pilgrime, as if he had beene newly returned from Jerusalem.
Being come to Florence, he went to an Inne kept by two brethren, neere neighbours to the dwelling of his Mistresse, and the first thing he did, was passing by her doore, to get a sight of her if he were so happie. But he found the windowes, doores, and all parts of the house fast shut up, whereby he suspected her to be dead, or else to be changed from her dwelling: wherefore (much perplexed in minde) he went on to the two brothers Inne, finding foure persons standing at the gate, attired in mourning, whereat he marvelled not a little; knowing himselfe to be so transfigured, both in body and babite, farre from the manner of common use at his parting thence, as it was a difficult matter to know him: he stept boldly to a Shooe-makers shop neere adjoyning, and demanded the reason of their wearing mourning. The Shooe-maker made answer thus; Sir, those men are clad in mourning, because a brother of theirs, being named Theobaldo (who hath beene absent hence a long while) about some fifteene dayes since was slaine. And they having heard, by proofe made in the Court of justice, that one Aldobrandino Palermini (who is kept close prisoner) was the murtherer of him, as he came in a disguised habite to his daughter, of whom he was most affectionately enamoured; cannot chuse, but let the World know by their outward habits, the inward affliction of their hearts, for a deede so dishonourably committed. Theobaldo wondered greatly hereat, imagining, that some man belike resembling him in shape, might be slaine in this manner, and by Aldobrandino, for whose misfortune he grieved marvellously. As concerning his Mistresse, he understood that shee was living, and in good health; and night drawing on apace, he went to his lodging, with infinite molestations in his minde, where after supper, he was lodged in a Corne-loft with his man. Now by reason of many disturbing imaginations, which incessantly wheeled about his braine, his bed also being none of the best, and his supper (perhaps) somewhat of the coursest; a great part of the night was spent, yet could he not close his eyes together. But lying still broade awake, about the dead time of night, he heard the treading of divers persons over his head, who discended downe a paire of stayres by his Chamber, into the lower parts of the house, carrying a light with them, which he discerned by the chinkes and crannies in the wall. Stepping softly out of his bed, to see what the meaning hereof might be, he espied a faire young woman, who carried a light in her hand, and three men in her company, descending downe the stayres together, one of them speaking thus to the young woman. Now we may boldly warrant our saftey, because we have heard it assuredly, that the death of Theobaldo Elisei, hath beene sufficiently approved by the Brethren, against Aldobrandino Palermini, and he hath confessed the fact; whereupon the sentence is already set downe in writing. But yet it behooveth us notwithstanding, to conceale it very secretly, because if ever hereafter it should be knowne, that we are they who murthered him, we shall be in the same danger, as now Aldobrandino is.
When Theobaldo had heard these words, hee began to consider with himselfe, how many and great the dangers are, wherewith mens minds may dayly be molested. First, he thought on his owne brethren in their sorrow, and buried a stranger insteed of him, accusing afterward (by false opinion, and upon the testimony of as false witnesses) a man most innocent, making him ready for the stroke of death. Next, he made a strict observation in his soule, concerning the blinded severity of Law, and the Ministers thereto belonging, who pretending a diligent and carefull inquisition for truth, doe oftentimes (by their tortures and torments) heare lies avouched (onely for ease of paine) in the place of a true confession, yet thinking themselves (by doing so) to be the Ministers of God and justice, whereas indeede they are the Divels executioners of his wickednesse. Lastly, converting his thoughts to Aldobrandino, the imagined murtherer of a man yet living, infinite cares beleagured his soule, in devising what might best be done for his deliverance.
So soone as he was risen in the morning, leaving his servant behinde him in his lodging, he went (when he thought it fit time) all alone toward the house of his Mistresse, where finding by good fortune the gate open, he entred into a small Parlour beneath, and where he saw his Mistresse sitting on the ground, wringing hands, and wofully weeping, which (in meere compassion) moved him to weepe likewise; and going somewhat neere her, he saide. Madame, torment your selfe no more, for your peace is not farre off from you. The Gentlewoman hearing him say so, lifted up her head, and in teares spake thus. Good man, thou seemest to me to be a Pilgrime stranger; what doest thou know, either concerning my peace, or mine affliction? Madame (replied the Pilgrime) I am of Constantinople, and (doubtlesse) am conducted hither by the hand of Heaven, to convert your teares into rejoycing, and to deliver your Father from death. How is this? answered shee: If thou be of Constantinople, and art but now arrived here; doest thou know who we are, either I, or my Father?
The Pilgrime discoursed to her, even from the one end to the other, the history of her husbands sad disasters, telling her, how many yeeres since she was espoused to him, and many other important matters, which well shee knew, and was greatly amazed thereat, thinking him verily to be a Prophet, and kneeling at his feete, entreated him very earnestly, that if he were come to deliver her Father Aldobrandino from death, to doe it speedily, because the time was very short. The Pilgrime appearing to be a man of great holinesse, saide. Rise up Madame, refraine from weeping, and observe attentively what I shall say; yet with this caution, that you never reveale it to any person whatsoever. This tribulation whereinto you are falne, (as by revelation I am faithfully informed) is for a grievous sinne by you heretofore committed, whereof divine mercy is willing to purge you, and to make a perfect amends by a sensible feeling of this affliction; as seeking your sound and absolute recovery, least you fall into farre greater danger then before. Good man (quoth shee) I am burthened with many sinnes, and doe not know for which any amends should be made by me; any one sooner then other: wherefore if you have intelligence thereof, for charities sake tell it me, and I will doe so much as lieth in me, to make a full satisfaction for it. Madame, answered the Pilgrime, I know well enough what it is, and will demand it no more of you, to winne any further knowledge thereof, then I have already: but because in revealing it your selfe, it may touch you with the more true compunction of soule; let us goe to the point indeede, and tell mee, doe you remember, that at any time you were married to an Husband, or no?
At the hearing of these words, shee breathed foorth a very vehement sigh, and was stricken with admiration at this question, beleeving that not any one had knowledge thereof. Howbeit, since the day of the supposed Theobaldaes buriall, such a rumour ran abroade, by meanes of some speeches, rashly dispersed by a friend of Theobaldoes, who (indeede) knew it; whereupon shee returned him this answer. It appeareth to me (good man) that divine ordinativation hath revealed unto you all the secrets of men; and therefore I am determined, not to conceale any of mine from you. True it is, that in my younger yeeres, being left a widdow, I entirely affected an unfortunate young Gentleman, who (in secret) was my Husband, and whose death is imposed on my Father. The death of him I have the more bemoaned, because (in reason) it did neerely concerne me, by shewing my selfe so savage and rigorous to him before his departure: neverthelesse, let me assure you Sir, that neither his parting long absence from me, or his untimely death, never had the power to bereave my heart of his remembrance.
Madame, saide the Pilgrime, the unfortinate young Gentleman that is slaine, did never love you; but sure I am, that Theobaldo Elisei loved you deerely. But tell me, what was the occasion whereby you conceived such hatred against him? Did he at any time offend you? No truly Sir, quoth shee; but the reason of my anger towards him, was by the words and threatnings of a religious Father, to whom once I revealed (under confession) how faithfully I affected him, and what private familiarity had passed betweene us. When iristantly he used such dreadfull threatnings to me, and which (even yet) doe afflict my soule, that I did not abstaine, and utterly refuse him, the Divell would fetch me quicke to Hell, and cast me into the bottome of his quenchlesse and everlasting fire.
These menaces were so prevailing with me, as I refused all further conversition with Theobaldo, in which regard, I would receive neither letters or messages from him. Howbeit, I am perswaded, that if he had continued here still, and not departed hence in such desperate manner as hee did, seeing him melt and consume dayly away, even as Snow by power of the Sunne-beames: my austere deliberation had beene long agoe quite altered, because not at any time (since then) life hath allowed me one merry day, neither did I, or ever can love any man like unto him.
At these wordes the Pilgrime sighed, and then proceeded on againe thus. Surely Madame, this one onely sin, may justly torment you, because I know for a certainty, that Theobaldo never offered you any in many, the day hee first became enamoured of you; and what grace or favour you affoorded him, was your owne voluntary gift, and (as he tooke it) no more then in modesty might well become you; for hee loving you first, you had beene most cruell and unkinde, if you should not have requited him with the like affection. If then he continued so just and loyall to you, as (of mine owne knowledge) I am able to say he did; what should move you to repulse him so rudely? Such matters ought well to bee considered on before hand; for if you did imagine, that you should repent it as an action ill done, yet you could not doe it, because as hee became yours, so were you likewise onely his; and he being yours, you might dispose of him at your pleasure, as being truely obliged to none but you. How could you then with-draw your selfe from him, being onely his, and not commit most manifest theft, a farre unfitting thing for you to doe, except you had gone with his consent.
Now Madame, let me further give you to understand, that I am a religious person, and a pilgrime, and therefore am well acquainted with all the courses of their dealing; if therefore I speake somewhat more amply of them, and for your good, it can not be so unseeming for mee to doe it, as it would appeare ugly in another. In which respect, I will speake the more freely to you, to the ende, that you may take better knowledge of them, then (as it seemeth) hitherto you have done. In former passed times such as professed Religion, were learned and most holy persons; but our religious professours now adayes, and such as covet to bee so esteemed; have no matter at all of Religion in them, but onely the outward shew and habite. Which yet is no true badge of Religion neither, because it was ordained by religious institutions, that their garments should bee made of arrow, plaine, and coursest spun cloth, to make a publike manifestation to the world, that (in meere devotion, and religious disposition) by wrapping their bodies in such base clothing, they condemned and despised all temporall occasions. But now adaies they make them large, deepe, glistering, and of the finest cloth or stuffes to bee gotten, reducing those habites to so proude and pontificall a forme, that they walke Peacock-like, rustling, and strouting with them in the Churches; yea, and in open publike places, as if they were ordinary secular persons, to have their pride more notoriously observed. And as the Angler bestoweth his best cunning, with one line and baite to catch many fishes at one strike; even so do these counterfeited habit-mongers, by their dissembling and crafty dealing, beguile many credulous widdowes: simple women, yea, and men of weake capacity, to credit whatsoever they doe or say, and herein they doe most of all exercise themselves.
And to the end, that my speeches may not savor of any untruth against them; these men which I speake of, have not any habite at all of religious men, but onely the colour of their garments, and whereas they in times past, desired nothing more then the salvation of mens soules; these fresher witted fellowes, covet after women and wealth, and employ all their paines by their whispering confessions, and figures of painted fearefull examples, to affright and terrifie unsetled and weake consciences, by horrible and blasphemous speeches; yet adding perswasion withall, that their sinnes may be purged by Almes-deedes and Masses. To the end, that such as credit them in these their dayly courses, being guided more by apparance of devotion, then any true compunction of heart, to escape severe penances by them enjoyned: may some of them bring bread, others wine, others coyne, all of them matter of commoditie and benefit, and simply say, these gifts are for the soules of their good friends deceased.
I make not any doubt, but almes-deedes and prayers, are very mighty; and prevailing meanes, to appease heavens anger for some sinnes committed; but if such as bestow them, did either see or know, to whom they give them: they would more warily keepe them, or else cast them before Swine, in regard they are altogether so unworthy of them. But come we now to the case of your ghostly father, crying out in your eare, that secret mariage was a most greevous sinne: Is not the breach thereof farre greater? Familiar conversation betweene man and man and woman, is a concession meerely naturall: but to rob, kill, or banish any one, proceedeth from the mindes malignity. That thou did rob Theobaldo, your selfe hath already sufficiently witnessed, by taking that from him, which with free consent in mariage you gave him. Next I must say, that by all the power remaining in you, you kild him, because you would not permit him to remaine with you, declaring your selfe in the very height of cruelty, that hee might destroy his life by his owne hands. In which case the Law requireth, that whosoever is the occasion of an ill act committed, hee or she is as deepe in the fault, as the party that did it. Now concerning his banishment, and wandring seaven yeeres in exile thorow the world; you cannot denie, but that you were the onely occasion thereof. In all which three severall actions, farre more capitally have you offended; then by contracting of mariage in such clandestine manner.
But let us see, whether Theobaldo deserved all these severall castigations, or not. In trueth he did not, your selfe have confessed (beside that which I know) that hee loved you more deerely then himselfe, and nothing could be more honoured, magnified and exalted, then dayly you were by him, above all other women whatsoever. When hee came in any place, where honestly, and without suspition hee might speake to you: all his honour, and all his liberty, lay wholly committed into your power. Was hee not a noble young Gentleman? Was he (among all those parts that most adorne a man, and appertaine to the very choycest respect) inferiour to any one of best merit in your Citie? I know that you cannot make deniall to any of these demands. How could you then by the perswasion of a beast, a foole, a villaine, yea, a vagabond, envying both his happinesse and yours, enter into so cruell a minde against him? I know not what error misguideth women, in scorning and despising their husbands: but if they entred into a better consideration, understanding triely what they are, and what nobility of nature God hath endued man withall, farre above all other creatures; it would bee their highest title of glory, when they are so preciously esteemed of them, so dearely affected by them, and so gladly embraced in all their best abilities.
This is so great a sinne, as the divine justice (which in an equall Ballance bringeth all operations to their full effect) did not purpose to leave unpunished; but as you enforced against all reason, to take away Theobaldo from your selfe: even so your father Aldobrandino, without any occasion given by Theobaldo, is in perill of his life, and you a partaker of his tribulation. Out of which if you desire to be delivered, it is very convenient that you promise one thing which I shall tell you, and may much better be by you performed. Namely, that if Theobaido do returne from his long banishment, you shall restore him to your love, grace, and good acceptation; accounting him in the selfe-same degree of favour and private entertainment, as he was at the first, before your wicked ghostly father so hellishly incensed you against him.
When the Pilgrim had finished his speeches, the Gentlewoman who had listned to them very attentively (because all the edged reasons appeared to be plainly true) became verily perswaded, that all these afictions had falne on her and her father, for the ingratefull offence by her committed, and therefore thus is replied. Worthy man, and the friend to goodnesse, I know undoubtedly, that the words which you have spoken are true, and also I understand by your demonstration, what manner of people some of those religious persons are, whom heretofore I have reputed to be Saints, but find them now to be far otherwise. And to speake truly, I perceive the fault to be great and greevous, wherein I have offended against Theobaldo, and would (if I could) willingly make amends, even in such manner as you have advised. But how is it possible to be done? Theobaldo being dead, can be [no] more recalled to this life; and therefore, I know not what promise I should make, in a matter which is not to bee performed. Whereto the Pilgrime without any longer pausing, thus answered.
Madam, by such revelations as have beene shewne to me, I know for a certainety, that Theobaldo is not dead, but living, in health, and in good estate; if he had the fruition of your grace and favour. Take heede what you say Sir (quoth the Gentlewoman) for I saw him lye slain before my doore, his bodie having received many wounds, which I folded in mine armes, and washed his face with my brinish teares; whereby (perhaps) the scandall arose, that flew abroad to my disgrace. Beleeve me Madam, replyed the Pilgrim, say what you will, I dare assure you that Theobaldo is living, and if you dare make promise, concerning what hath bin formerly requested, and keepe it inviolably, I make no doubt, but you your selfe shall shortly see him. I promise it (quoth she) and binde my selfe thereto by a sacred oath, to keepe it faithfully: for never could any thing happen to yeeld me the like contentment, as to see my Father free from danger, and Theobaldo living.
At this instant Theobaldo thought it to be a very apt and convenient time to disclose himselfe, and to comfort the Lady, with an assured signall of hope, for the deliverance of her Father, wherefore he said: Ladie, to the end that I may comfort you infallibly in this dangerous perill of your fathers life, I am to make knowne an especiall secret to you, which you are to keepe carefully (as you tender your owne life) from ever being revealed to the world. They were then in a place of sufficient privacie, and by themselves, because she reposed great confidence in the Pilgrims sanctity or life, as thinking him none other then he seemed to be. Theobaldo tooke out of his Purse a Ring, which she gave him the last night of their conversing together, and he had kept with no meane care: and shewing it to her, said; Do you know this Ring Madam? So soone as she saw it, immediatly she knew it, and answered, Yes Sir, I know the Ring, and confesse that heretofore I gave it to Theobaldo.
Heereupon the Pilgrime stood up, and sodainly putting off his poore linnen Frock, and the Hood from his head, using his Florentine tongue, he said; Tell me Madam, do you not know me? When she had advisedly beheld him, and knew him indeed to be Theobaldo, she was stricken into a wonderfull astonishment, being as fearfull of him, as she was of the dead body which she saw lying in the street. And I dare assure you, that she durst not go neere him, to respect him as Theobaldo lately come from Cyprus, but (in terror) fled away from him; as if Theobaldo had bin newly risen out of his grave, and came thither purposely to affright her; wherefore he said. Be not affraid Madam, I am your Theobaldo, in health, alive, and never as yet died, neither have I received any wounds to kill mee, as you and my brethren had formerly imagined.
Some better assurance getting possession of her, as knowing him perfectly by his voice, and looking more stedfastly on his face, which constantly avouched him to be Theobaldo; the teares trickling amaine downe her faire cheekes, she ran to embrace him, casting her armes about his necke, and kissing him a thousand times, my faithfull husband, nothing in the world can be so welcom to me. Theobaldo having most kindly kissed and embraced her, said; Sweet wife, time wit not now allow us those ceremonious courtesies, which (indeed) so long a separation do justly challenge; for I must about a more weighty busines, to have your Father safely delivered, which I hope to do before to morow night when you shall heare tydings to your better contentment. And questionlesse, if I speed no worse then my good hope perswadeth me, I will see you againe to night, and acquaint you at better leysure, in such things as I cannot do now at this present.
So putting on his Pilgrimes habit againe, kissing her once more, and comforting her with future good successe, he departed from her, going to the prison where Aldobrandino lay, whom hee found more pensive, as being in hourely expectation of death, then any hope he had to be freed from it. Being brought neerer to him by the prisoners favour, as seeming to be a man come onely to comfort him: sitting downe by him, thus he began. Aldobrandino, I am a friend of thine, whom Heaven hath sent to doe thee good, in meere pittie and compassion of thine innocency. And therefore, if thou wilt grant me one small request, which I am earnestly to crave at thy hands, thou shalt heare (without any failing) before to morrow at night, the sentence of thy free absolution, whereas now thou expectest nothing but death; whereunto Aldobrandino thus answered. Friendly man, seeing thou art so carefull of my safety (although I know thee not, neither doe remember that ere I saw thee till now) thou must needs be some especiall kinde friend of mine. And to tell thee the truth, I never committed the sinful deed for which I am condemned to death. True it is, I have other heinous and greevous sins, which (undoubtedly) have throwne. this heavy judgement on me, and therefore I am the more willing to undergo it. Neverthelesse, let me thus I us farre assure thee, that I would gladly not onely promise something which might be to the glory of God, if he were pleased in this case to have mercy on me; but also would as willingly performe and accomplish it. Wherefore, demaund whatsoever thou pleasest, for unfained (if I escape with life) I will truly keepe promise with thee.
Sir, replyed the Pilgrime, I desire nor demand any thing of you, but that you would pardon the foure Brethren of Theobaldo, that brought you to this hard extremity, as thinking you to be guilty of their brothers death, and that you would also accept them as your brethren and friends upon their craving pardon for what they have done.
Sir, answered Aldobrandino, no man knoweth how sweet revenge is, nor with what heate it is to be desired, but onely the man who hath bene wronged. Notwithstanding, not to hinder hope, which onely aymeth at Heaven, I freely forgive them, and henceforth pardon them for ever, intending more. over, that if mercy give me life, and cleere me from this bloody imputation, to love and respect them so long as I shall live. This answere was most pleasing to the Pilgrime, and without any further multiplication of speeches, he entreated him to be of good comfort, for he feared not but before the time prefixed, he should heare certaine tydings of his deliverance.
At his departing from him, hee went directly to the Signoria, and prevailed so far that he spake privately with a Knight, who was then one of the States chiefest Lords, to whom he saide. Sir, a man ought to bestow his best paines and diligence, that the truth of things should be apparantly knowne, especially, such men as hold the place and office as you doe: to the end, that those persons which have committed no foule offence, should not bee punished, but onely the guilty and haynous transgressors. And because it will be no meane honor to you, to lay the blame where it worthily deserveth, I am come hither purposely, to informe you in a case of most weighty importance. It is not unknowne to you, with what rigour the State hath proceeded against Aldobrandino Palermini, and you think verily he is the man that hath slaine Theobaldo Elisei, whereupon your Law hath condemned him to die. I dare assure you Sir, that a very unjust course hath beene taken in this case, because Aldobrandino is falsly accused as you your selfe will confesse before midnight, when they are delivered into your power, that were the murderers of the man.
The honest Knight, who was very sorrowfull for Aldobrandino, gladly gave attention to the Pilgrime, and having conferred on many matters, appertaining to the fact committed: the two Brethren who were Theobaldoes Hostes, and their Chambermaid, upon good advice given, were apprehended in their first sleep, without any resistance made in their defence. But when the tortures were sent for, to understand truly how the case went, they would not endure any paine at all, but each aside by himselfe, and then altogether confessed openly, that they did the deede, yet not knowing him to be Theobaldo Elisei. And when it was demanded of them, upon what occasion they did so foule an act, they answered, that they were so hatefull against the mans life, because he would luxuriouslie have abused one of their wives, when they both were absent from their owne home.
When the Pilgrim had heard their voluntary confession, he tooke his leave of his Knight, returning secretly to the house of Madam Hermelina, and there (because all her people were in their beds) she carefully awaited his returne, to beare some glad tydings of her father, and to make a further reconciliation betweene her and Theobaldo, when sitting downe by her, he said: Deare Love, be of good cheere, for (upon my word) to morrow you shall have your father home safe, well, and delivered from all further danger: and to confirme her the more confidently in his words, he declared at large the whole carriage of the businesse. Hermelina being wondrously joyfull, for two such succesefull accidents to injoy her husband alive and in health, and also to have her father freed from so great a danger; kissed and embraced him most affectionately, welcomming him lovingly into her bed, whereto so long time hee had beene a stranger.
No sooner did bright day appeare, but Theobaldo arose, having acquainted her with such matters as were to be done, and once more earnestly desiring her, to conceale (as yet) these occurrences to her selfe. So in his Pilgrims habit, he departed from her house, to awaite convenient: opportunity, for attending on the businesse belonging to Aldobrandino. At the usuall houre appointed, the Lords were all set in the Signioria, and had received full information, concerning the offence imputed to Aldobrandino, setting him at liberty by publique consent, and sentencing the other malefactors with death, who (within a few dayes after) were beheaded in place the murther was committed. Thus Aldobrandino being released, to his exceeding comfort, and no small joy of his daughter, kindred, and friends, all knowing perfectly, that this had happened by the Pilgrims meanes, they conducted him home to Aldobrandinoes house, where they desired him to continue so long as himselfe pleased, using him with most honourable and gracious respect, bilt especially Hermelina, who knew (better then the rest) on whom she bestowed her liberall favours, yet concealing all closely to her selfe. After two or three dayes were over-past, in these complementall entercoursings of kindnesse, Theobaldo began to consider, that it was high time for reconciliation, to be solemnely past betweene his brethren and Aldobrandino. For, they were not a little amazed at his strange deliverance, and went likewise continually armed, as standing in feare of Aldobrandino and his friends; which made him the more earnest, for accomplishment of the promise formerly made unto him. Aldobrandino lovingly replied, that he was ready to make good his word. Whereupon, the Pilgrime provided a goodly Banquet, whereat he pursued to have present Aldobrandino, his Daughter, Kindred, and their wives. But first, himselfe went in person, to invite them in peace to his banquet, using many pregnant and forcible reasons to them, such as are requisite in the like discordant cases. In the end, they were so wise and prevailing with them that they willingly condiscended, and thought it no disparagement unto them, for the recovery of Aldobrandinoes kindnesse againe, to crave pardon for their great error committed. On the morrow following, about dinner time, the foure brethren of Theobaldo, attired in their mourning garments, with their wives and frends came first to the house of Aldobrandino, who purposely stayed for them; and having laid downe their weapons on the ground, in the presence of all such as Aldobrandino had invited as his witnesses, they offered themselves to his mercy, and humbly required pardon of him, for the matter wherein they had offended him. Aldobrandino shedding teares, most lovingly embraced them, and (to be briefe) pardoned whatsoever injuries he had received. After this, the sisters and wives, all clad in mourning, courteously submitted themselves, and were graciously welcommed by Madame Hermelina, as also divers other Gentlewomen there present with her. Being all seated at the Tables, which were furnished with such rarities as could be wished for; al things else deserved their due commendation, but onely sad silence, occasioned by the fresh remembrance of sorow, appearing in the habites of Theobaldoes friends and kindred, which the Pilgrim himselfe plainly perceived, to be the onely disgrace to him and his feast. Wherefore, as before he had resolved, when time served to purge away this melancholly, he arose from the Table, when some (as yet) had scarse begun to eate, and thus spake.
Gracious company, there is no defect in this Banquet, or more debars it of the honour it might else have, but onely the presence of Theobaldo, who having bin continually in your company, it seemes you are not willing to take knowledge of him, and therefore I meane my selfe to shew him. So, uncasing himselfe out of his Pilgrimes clothes, and standing in his Hose and Doublet, to their no little admiration, they all knew him, yet doubted whether it were he, or no. Which he perceiving, he repeated his brethrens and absent kindreds names, and what occurrences hapned betweene them from time to time, beside the relation of his owne passed fortunes, inciting teares in the eyes of his brethren, and all else there present, every one hugging and embracing him, yea, many beside, who were no kin at all to him. Hermelina onely excepted: which when Aldobrandino saw, he said unto her; How now Hermelina? Why doest thou not welcome home Theobaldo, so kindly as the rest have done?
She making a modest courtesie to her Father, and answering so loude as every one might her, There is not any one in this assembly that more willingly would give him all expression of a joyfull welcom home and thankefull gratitude for such especiall favours received, then in my heart I could affoord to do, but onely in regard of those infamous speeches noysed out against me, on the day when we wept for him, who was supposed to be Theobaldo, which slander was to my great discredit. Go on boldly, replied Aldobrandino, doest thou think that I regard any such praters? In the procuring of my deliverance, he hath approved them to be manifest lyars, albeit I my selfe did never credit them. Go then I command thee, and- let me see thee both kisse and embrace him. She who desired nothing more, shewed her selfe not sloth full in obeying her father to do but her duty to her husband. Wherefore being risen, as all the rest had done, but yet in farre more effectuall manner, she declared her unfained love to Theobaldo. These bountifull favours of Aldobrandino, were joyfully accepted by Theobaldoes brethren, as also to every one there present; so that all former rancour and hatred which had caused heavie variances betweene them, was now converted to mutuall kindnesse and solemne friendship on every side.
When the feasting dayes were finished, the garments of sad mourning were quite laid aside, and those (becomming so generall a joy) put on, to make their hearts and habites suteable. Now, concerning the man slaine, and supposed to be Theobaldo, hee was one, that in all parts of body, and truenesse of complexion so neerely resembled him, as Theobaldoes owne brethren could not distinguish the one from the other: but hee was of Lunigiana, named Fatinolo, and not Theobaldo, whom the two Brethren Inne-keepers maliced, about some idle suspition conceived, and having slaine him, layde his body at the doore of Aldobrandino, where by reason of Theobaldoes absence, it was generally reputed to be hee, and Aldobrandino charged to doe the deede, by vehement perswasion of the brethren, knowing what love had passed betweene him and his daughter Hermelina. But happy was the Pilgrims returne, first to heare those words in the Inne, the meanes to bring the murther to light, and then the discreet carriage of the Pilgrime, untill he plainly approved himselfe, to bee truely Theobaldo.[ Hide Seventh Novell ]
When the long discourse of Madame Emilia was ended, not displeasing to any, in regard of the length, but rather held too short, because no exceptions could bee taken against it, comparing the raritie of the accidents, and changes together: the Queene turned to Madame Lauretto, giving her such a manifest signe, as she knew, that it was her turne to follow next, and therefore shee tooke occasion to begin thus. Faire Ladies, I intend to tell you a Tale of trueth, which (perhaps) in your opinions, will seeme to sound like a lye: and yet I heard by the very last relation, that a dead man was wept and mournd for, in sted of another being then alive. In which respect, I am now to let you know, how a living man was buried for dead, and being raised againe, yet not as living, himselfe, and divers more beside, did beleeve that he came forth of his grave, and adored him as a Saint, who was the occasion thereof, and who (as a bad man.) deserved justly to be condemned.
In Tuscanie there was sometime an Abbey, seated, as now we see commonly they are, in a place not much frequented with people, and thereof a Monke was Abbot, very holy and curious in all things else, save onely a wanton appetite to women: which yet he kept so cleanly to himselfe, that though some did suspect it, yet it was knowne to very few. It came to passe, that a rich Country Franklin, named Ferando, dwelt as neere neighbour to the said Abby, he being a man materiall, of simple and grosse understanding, yet he fell into great familiarity with the Abbot; who made use of this friendly conversation to no other end, but for divers times of recreation; when he delighted to smile at his silly and sottish behaviour.
Upon this his private frequentation with the Abbot, at last he observed, that Ferando had a very beautifull woman to his Wife, with whom he grew so deeply in love, as he had no other meditations either by day or night, but how to become acceptable in her favour. Neverthelesse, he concealed his amorous passions privately to himselfe, and could plainely perceive, that although Ferando (in all things else) was meerely a simple fellow, and more like an Idiot, then of any sensible apprehension: yet was he wise enough in loving his Wife, keeping her carfully out of all company, as one (indeede) very jealous, least any should kisse her, but onely himselfe, which drove the Abbot into despaire, for ever attaining the issue of his desire. Yet being subtill, crafty, and cautelous, he wrought so on the flexible nature of Ferando, that hee brought his wife with him divers dayes to the Monasterie; where they walked in the goodly Garden, discoursing on the beatitudes of eternall life, as also the most holy deedes of men and women, long since departed out of this life, in mervailous civill and modest manner. Yet all these were but traines to a further intention, for the Abbot must needes be her ghostly Father, and she come to be confessed by him; which the foole Ferando tooke as an especiall favour, and therefore he gave his consent the sooner.
At the appointed time, when the woman came to confession to the Abbot, and was on her knees before him, to his no small contentment, before she would say any thing else, thus she began: Sacred Father, if God had not given me such an husband as I have, or else had bestowed on me none at all; I might have beene so happy, by the meanes of your holy doctrine, very easily to have entred into the way, whereof you spake the other day, which leadeth to eternall life. But when I consider with my selfe, what manner of man Ferando is, and thinke upon his folly withall; I may well terme my selfe to be a widow, although I am a maried wife, because while he liveth, I cannot have any other husband. And yet (as sottish as you see him) he is (without any occasion given him) so extreamely jealous of me; as I am not able to live with him, but only in continuall tribulation and hearts griefe. In which respect, before I enter into confession, I most humbly beseech you, that you would vouchsafe (in this distresse) to assist me with your fatherly advice and counsell, because, if thereby I cannot attaine to a more pleasing kinde of happinesse; neither confessior, or any thing else, is able to doe me any good at all.
These words were not a little welcome to my Lord Abbot, because (thereby) he halfe assured himselfe, that Fortune had laid open the path to his hoped pleasures. Whereupon he said. Deare daughter, I make no question to the contrary, but it must needes be an exceeding infelicity, to so faire and goodly a young woman as you are, to be plagued with so sottish an husband, brainsick, and without the use of common understanding; but yet subject to a more hellish affliction then all these, namely jealousie, and therefore you being in this wofull manner tormented, your tribulations are not only so much the more credited, but also as amply grieved for, and pittied. In which heavy and irksome perturbations, I see not any meanes of remedy, but onely one, being a kinde of physicke (beyond all other) to cure him of his foolish jealousie; which medicine is very familiar to me, because I know best how to compound it, alwayes provided, that you can be of so strong a capacity, as to be secret in what I shall say unto you.
Good Father (answered the Woman) never make you any doubt thereof, for I would rather endure death it selfe, then disclose any thing which you enjoyne me to keepe secret: wherefore, I beseech you Sir to tell me, how, and by what meanes it may be done. If (quoth the Abbot) you desire to have him perfectly cured, of disease so dangerous and offensive, of necessity he Must be sent into Purgatory. How may that be done, saide the woman, he being alive? He must needs die, answered the Abbot, for his more speedy passage thither; and when he hath endured so much punishment, as may expiate the quality of his jealousie, we have certaine devoute and zealous prayers, whereby to bring him backe againe to life, in as able manner as ever he was. Why then, replyed the woman, I must remaine in the state of a Widdow? Very true, saide the Abbot, for a certaine time, in all which space, you may not (by no meanes) marrie againe, because the heavens will therewith be highly offended: but Ferando being returned to life againe, you must repossesse him as your Husband, but never to be jealous any more. Alas Sir (quoth the woman) so that he may be cured of his wicked jealousie, and I no longer live in such an hellish imprisonment, do as you please.
Now was the Abbot (well neere) on the highest step of his hope, making her constant promise, to accomplish it: But (quoth he) what shall be my recompence when I have done it? Father, saide she, whatsoever you please to aske, if it remaine within the compasse of my power: but you being such a vertuous and sanctified man, and I a woman of so meane worth or merit; what sufficient recompence can I be able to make you? Whereunto the Abbot thus replyed. Faire woman, you are able to do as much for me, as I am for you, because I doe dispose my selfe, to performe a matter for your comfort and consolation, even so ought you to be as mindfull of me, in any action concerning my life and welfare. In any such matter Sir (quoth she) depending on your benefit so strictly, you may safely presume to command me. You must then (saide the Abbot) grant me your love, and the kinde embracing of your person; because so violent are mine affections, as I pine and consume away daily, till I enjoy the fruition of my desires, and none can helpe me therein but you. When the woman heard these words, as one confounded with much amazement, thus shee replied. Alas, holy Father! What a strange motion have you made to me? I beleeved very faithfully, that you were no lesse then a Saint, and is it convenient, that when silly women come to ask counsell of such sanctified men, they should returne them such unfitting answeres? Be not amazed good woman, saide the Abbot, at the motion which I have made unto you, because holinesse is not thereby impaired a jot in me; for it is the inhabitant of the soule, the other is an imperfection attending on the body: but be it whatsoever, your beauty hath so powerfully prevailed on me, that entire love hath compelld me to let you know it. And more may you boast of your beauty, then any that ever I beheld before, considering, it is so pleasing to a sanctified man, that it can draw him from divine contemplations, to regard a matter of so humble an equalitie.
Let me tell you moreover, woorthy Woman, that see me reverenced here as Lord Abbot, yet am I but as other men are, and in regard I am neither aged, nor mishapen, me thinkes the motion I have made, should be the lesse offensive to you, and therefore the sooner granted. For, all the while as Ferando remaineth in Purgatory, doe you but imagine him to be present with you, and your perswasion will the more absolutely be confirmed. No man can, or shall be privy to our close meetings, for I carry the same holy opinion among all men, as you your selfe conceived of me, and none dare be so saucie, as to call in question whatsoever I doe or say, because my words are Oracles, and mine actions more than halfe miracles; doe you not then refuse so gracious an offer. Enow there are, who would gladly enjoy that, which is francke and freely presented to you, and which (if you be a wise Woman) is meerely impossible for you to refuse. Richly am I possessed of Gold and Jewels, which shall be all yours, if you please in favour to be mine, wherein I will not be gaine-saide, except your selfe do deny me.
The Woman having her eyes fixed on the ground, knew not well how shee should denie him; and yet in plaine words, to say shee consented, shee held it to be overbase and immodest, and ill agreeing with her former reputation: when the Abbot had well noted this attention in her, and how silent shee stood without returning any answere; he accounted the conquest to be more then halfe his owne: so that continuing on his former perswasions, hee never ceased, but allured her still to beleeve whatsoever he saide. And much ashamed of his importunity, but more of her owne flexible yeelding weaknesse, made answere, that shee would willingly accomplish his request; which yet shee did not absolutely grant, untill Ferando were first sent into Purgatory. And till then (quoth the Abbot) I will not urge any more, because I purpose his speedy sending thither: but yet, so farre lend me your assistance, that either to morrow, or else the next day, he may come hither once more to converse with me. So putting a faire gold Ring on her finger, they parted till the next meeting.
Not a little joyfull was the Woman of so rich a gift, hoping to enjoy a great many more of them, and returning home to her neighbours, acquainted them with wonderfull matters, all concerning the sanctimonious life of the Abbot, a meere miracle of men, and worthy to be truely termed a Saint. Within two dayes after, Ferando went to the Abbey againe, and so soone as the Abbot espyed him, he presently prepared for his sending of him into Purgatorie. He never was without a certaine kinde of drugge, which being beaten into powder, would worke so powerfully upon the braine, and all the other vitall senses, as to entrance them with a deadly sleepe, and deprive them of all motion, either in the pulses, or in any other part else, even as if the body were dead indeede; in which operation, it would so hold and continue, according to the quantity given and drunke, as it preased the Abbot to order the matter. This powder or drugge, was sent him by a great Prince of the East, and therewith he wrought wonders upon his Novices, sending them into Purgatory when he pleased, and by such punishments as he inflicted on them there, made them (like credulous asses) believe whatsoever himselfe listed.
So much of this powder had the Abbot provided, as should suffice for three dayes entrancing, and having compounded it with a very pleasant Wine, calling Ferando into his Chamber, there gave it him to drinke, and afterward walked with him about the Cloyster, in very friendly conference together, the silly sot never dreaming on the treachery intended against him. Many Monkes beside were recreating themselves in the Cloyster, most of them delighting to behold the follies of Ferando, on whom the potion beganne so to worke, that he slept in walking, nodding and reeling as hee went, till at the last he fell downe, as if he had bene dead.
The Abbot pretending great admiration at this accident, called his Monkes about him, all labouring by rubbing his temples, throwing cold water and vinegar in his face, to revive him againe; alleaging that some fume or vapour in the stomacke, had thus over-awed his understanding faculties, and quite deprived him of life indeede. At length, when by tasting the pulse, and all their best employed paines, they saw that their labour was spent in vaine; the Abbot used such perswasions to the Monkes, that they all beleeved him to be dead: whereupon they sent for his wife and friends, who crediting as much as the rest did, were very sad and sorrowfull for him.
The Abbot (cloathed as he was) laide him in a hollow vault under a Tombe, such as there are used instead of Graves; his Wife returning home againe to her House, with a young Sonne which shee had by her Husband, protesting to keepe still within her House, and never more to be seene in any company, but onely to attend her young Sonne, and be very carefull of such wealth as her Husband had left unto her. From the City of Bologna, that very instant day, a well staide and governed Monke there arrived, who was a neere kinsman to the Abbot, and one whom he might securely trust. In the dead time of the night, the Abbot and this Monke arose, and taking Ferando out of the vault, carried him into a darke dungeon or prison, which he termed by the name of Purgatory, and where hee used to discipline his Monkes, when they had committed any notorious offence, deserving to be punished in Purgatory. There they tooke off all his usuall wearing garments, and cloathed him in the habite of a Monke, even as if he had beene one of the house; and laying him m a bundle of straw, so left him untill his senses should be restored againe. On the day following, late in the evening, the Abbot, accompanied with his trusty Monke, (by way of visitation) went to see and comfort the supposed widow, finding her attired in blacke, very sad and pensive, which by his wonted perswasions, indifferently he appeased; challenging the benefit of promise. Shee being thus alone, not hindered by her Husbands jealousie, and espying another goodly gold Ring on his finger, how frailety and folly over-ruled her, I know not, shee was a weake woman, he a divelish deluding man; and the strongest holdes by over long battery and besieging, must needs yeeld at the last, as I feare shee did: for very often afterward, the Abbot used in this manner to visit her, and the simple ignorant Country people, carrying no such ill opinion of the holy Abbot, and having- seene Ferando lying for dead in the vault, and also in the habite of a Monke; were verily perswaded, that when they saw the Abbot passe by to and fro, but most commonly in the night season, it was the ghost of Ferando, who walked in this manner after his death, as a just pennance for his jealousie.
When Ferandoes senses were recovered againe, and he found himselfe to be in such a darkesome place; not knowing where he was, he beganne to crie and make a noyse. When presently the Monke of Bologna (according as the Abbot had tutored him) stept into the dungeon, carrying a little waxe candle in the one hand, and a smarting whip in the other, going to Ferando, he stript off his cloathes, and began to lash him very soundly. Ferando roaring and crying, could say nothing else, but where am I? The Monke (with a dreadfull voyce) replyed: Thou art in Purgatory. How? saide Ferando; what? Am I dead? Thou art dead (quoth the Monke) and began to lash him lustily againe. Poore Ferando, crying out for his Wife and little Sonne, demanded a number of idle questions, whereto the Monke still fitted him with as fantasticke answers. Within a while after, he set both foode and wine before him, which when Ferando saw, he saide; How is this? Doe dead men eate and drinke? Yes, replyed the Monke, and this foode which here thou seest, thy Wife brought hither to the Church this morning, to have Masses devoutly sung for thy soule, and as to other, so must it be set before thee, for such is the command of the Patrone of this place.
Ferando having lyen entranced three dayes and three nights, felt his stomacke well prepared to eate, and feeding very heartily, still saide; O my good Wife, O my loving Wife, long mayest thou live for this extraordinary kindnesse. I promise thee (sweete heart) while I was alive, I cannot remember, that ever any foode and wine was halfe so pleasing to me. O my deare Wife; O my hony Wife. Canst thou (quoth the Monke) prayse and commend her now, using her so villainously in thy life time? Then did he whip him more fiercely then before, when Ferando holding up his hands, as craving for mercy, demanded wherefore he was so severely punished? I am so commanded (quoth the Monke) by supreme power, and twice every day must thou be thus disciplinde. Upon what occasion? replyed Ferando. Because (quoth the Monke) thou wast most notoriously jealous of thy Wife, shee being the very kindest woman to thee, as all the Countrey containeth not her equall. It is too true, answered Ferando, I was over-much jealous of her indeede: but had I knowne, that jealousie was such a hatefull sinne against Heaven, I never would have offended therein.
Now (quoth the Monke) thou canst confesse thine owne wilfull follie, but this should have beene thought on before, and whilest thou wast living in the World. But if the Fates vouchsafe to favour thee so much, as hereafter to send thee to the World once more; remember thy punishment here in Purgatory, and sinne no more in that foule sinne of jealousie. I pray you Sir tell me, replyed Ferando, after men are dead, and put into Purgatory, is there any hope of their ever visiting the World any more? Yes, saide the Monke, if the fury of the Fates be once appeased. O that I knew (quoth Ferando) by what meanes they would be appeased, and let me visite the World on againe: I would be the best Husband that ever lived, and never more be jealous, never wrong so good a Wife, nor ever use one unkind word against her. In the meane while, and till their anger may be qualified; when next my Wife doth send me food, I pray you worke so much, that some Candles may be sent me also, because I live here in uncomfortable darkenesse; and what should I doe with food, if I have no light. Shee sends Lights enow, answered the Monke, but they are burnt out on the Altar in Masse-time, and thou canst have none other here, but such as I must bring my selfe; neither are they allowed, but onely for the time of thy feeding and correcting.
Ferando breathing foorth a vehement sigh, desired to know what he was, being thus appointed to punish him in Purgatory? I am (quoth the Monke) a dead man, as thou art, borne in Sardignia, where I served a very jealous Master; and because: I soothed him in his jealousie, I had this pennance imposed on me, to serve thee here in Purgatory with meate and drinke, and (twice every day) to discipline thy body, untill the Fates have otherwise determined both for thee and me. Why? saide Ferando, are any other persons here, beside you and I? Many thousands, replyed the Monke, whom thou canst neither heare nor see, no more then they are able to doe the like by us. But how farre, saide Ferando, is Purgatory distant from our native Countries? About some fifty thousand leagues, answered the Monke; but yet passable in a moment, whensoever the offended Fates are pleased: and many Masses are dally saide for thy soule, at the earnest entreaty of thy Wife, in hope of thy conversion; and becomming a new man, hating to be jealous any more hereafter.
In these and such like speeches, as thus they beguiled the time, so did they observe it for a dayly course, sometime discipling, other whiles eating and drinking, for the space of ten whole moneths together: in the which time, the Abbot sildome failed to visite Ferandoes wife, without the least suspition in any of the neighbours, by reason of their setled opinion, concerning the nightly walking Ferandoes ghost. But, as all pleasures cannot bee exempted from some following paine or other, so it came to passe, that Ferandoes wife proved to be conceived with childe, and the time was drawing on for her deliverance. Now began the Abbot to consider, that Ferandoes folly was sufficiently chastised, and he had beene long enough in Purgatory: wherefore, the better to countenance all passed inconveniences, it was now thought high time, that Ferando should be sent to the world againe, and set free from the paines of Purgatory, as having payed for his jealousie dearely, to teach him better wisedome hereafter.
Late in the dead time of the night, the Abbot himselfe entred into the darke dungeon, and in an hollow counterfeited voyce, called to Ferando, saying. Comfort thy selfe Ferando, for the Fates are now pleased, that thou shalt bee released out of Purgatory, and sent to live in the world againe. Thou didst leave thy wife newly conceived with childe, and this very morning she is delivered of a goodly Sonne, whom thou shalt cause to be named Bennet: because, by the incessant prayers of the holy Abbot, thine owne loving Wife, and for sweet Saint Bennets sake, this grace and favour is afforded thee. Ferando hearing this, was exceeding joyfull, and returned this answere: For ever honored be the Fates, the holy Lord Abbot, blessed Saint Bennet, and my most dearely beloved Wife, whom I will faithfully love for ever, and never more offend her by any jealous in me.
When the next foode was sent to Ferando, so much of the powder was mingled with the wine, as would serve onely for foure houres entrauncing, in which time, they clothed him in his owne wearing apparell againe, the Abbot himselfe in person, and his honest trusty Monke of Bologna, conveying and laying him in the same vault under the Tombe, where at the first they gave him buriall. The next morning following, the breake of day, Ferando recovered his senses, and thorow divers chinkes and crannies of the Tombe, descried daylight, which hee had not see in tenne moneths space before. Perceiving then plainely, that he was alive, he cryed out aloude, saying: Open, open, and let mee forth of Purgatory, for I have beene heere long enough in conscience. Thrusting up his head against the cover of the Tombe, which was not of any great strength, neither well closed together; hee put it quite off the Tombe, and so got forth upon his feete: at which instant time, the Monks having ended their morning Mattins, and hearing the noyse, ran in hast thither, and knowing the voyce of Ferando, saw that he was come forth of the Monument.
Some of them were ancient Signiors of the house, and yet but meere Novices (as all the rest were) in these cunning and politique stratagems of the Lord Abbot, when hee intended to punish any one in Purgatory: and therefore, being affrighted, and amazed at this rare accident; they fled away from him, running to the Abbot, who making a shew to them, as if he were but new come forth of his Oratory, in a kinde of pacifying speeches, saide; Peace my deare Sonnes, be not affraide, but fetch the Crosse and Holy-water hither; then follow me, and I will shew you, what miracles the Fates have pleased to shew in our Convent, therefore be silent, and make no more noise; all which was performed according to his command.
Ferando looking leane and pale, as one, that in so long time hadde not seene the light of heaven, and endured such strict discipline twice every day: stood in a gastly amazement by the Tombesside, as not daring to adventure any further, or knowing perfectly, whether he was (as yet) truly alive, or no. But when he saw the Monkes and Abbot comming, with their lighted Torches, and singing in a solemne manner of Procession, he humbled himselfe at the Abbots feete, saying. Holy Father, by your zealous prayers (as hath bin miraculously revealed to me) and the prayers of blessed S. Bennet; as also of my honest, deare, and loving Wife, I have bin delivered from the paines of Purgatory, and brought againe to live in this world; for which unspeakable grace and favour, most humbly I thanke the well-pleased Fates, S. Bennet, your Father-hood, and my kinde Wife, and will remember all your loves to me for ever. Blessed be the Fates, answered the Abbot, for working so great a wonder heere in our Monastery. Go then my good Son, seeing the Fates have bin so gracious to thee; Go (I say) home to thine owne house, and comfort thy kind wife, who ever since thy departure out of this life, hath lived in continuall mourning, love, cherish, and make much of her, never afflicting her henceforth with causlesse jealousie. No I warrant you good Father, replyed Ferando; I have bin well whipt in Purgatory for such folly, and therefore I might be called a starke foole, if I should that way offend any more, either my loving wife, or any other.
The Abbot causing Miserere to be devoutly sung, sprinkling Ferando well with Holy-water, and placing a lighted Taper in his hand, sent him home so to his owne dwelling Village: where when the Neighbours beheld him, as people halfe frighted out of their wits, they fled away from him, so scared and terrified, as if they had seene some dreadfull sight, or gastly apporition; his wife being as fearfull of him, as any of the rest. He called to them kindly by their severall names, telling them, that he was newly risen out of his grave, and was a man as he had bin before. Then they began to touch and feele him, growing into more certaine assurance of him, perceiving him to be a living man indeede: whereupon they demanded many questions of him; and id as if he were become farre wiser then before, told them tydings, from their long deceased Kindred and Friends, as if he had met with them all in Purgatory, reporting a thousand lyes and fables to them, which (neverthelesse) they beleeved.
Then he told them what the miraculous voice had said unto him, concerning the birth of another young Sonne, whom (according as he was commanded) he caused to be named Bennet Ferando. Thus his returne to life againe, and the daily wonders reported by him, caused no meane admiration in the people, with much commendation of the Abbots holinesse, and Ferandoes happy curing his jealousie.[ Hide Eight Novell ]
Now there remained no more (to preserve the priviledge granted to Dioneus uninfringed) but the Queene onely, to declare her Novell. Wherefore, when the discourse of Madam Lauretta was ended, without attending any motion to bee made for her next succeeding, with a gracious and pleasing disposition, thus she began to speake. Who shall tell any Tale heereafter, to carry any hope or expectation of a liking, having heard the rare and wittie discourse of Madame Lauretta? Beleeve me, it was very advantageable to us all, that she was not this dayes first beginner, because few or none would have had any courage to follow after her; and therefore the rest yet remaining, are the more to be feared and suspected. Neverthelesse, to avoid the breach of order, and to claime no priviledge by my place, of not performing what I ought to do: prove as it may, a Tale you must have, and thus I proceed.
There lived sometime in the kingdome of France, a Gentleman named Isnarde, being the Count of Roussillion: who because hee was continually weake, crazie, and sickly, kept a Physitian daily in his house, who was called Master Gerard of Narbona. Count Isnarde had one onely Sonne, very young in yeares, yet of towardly hope, faire, comely, and of pleasing person, named Bertrand; with whom, many other children of his age, had their education: and among them, a daughter of the fore-named Physitian, called juliet; who, even in these tender yeares, fixed her affection upon young Bertrand, with such an earnest and intimate resolution, as was most admirable in so yong a Maiden, and more then many times is noted in yeares of greater discretion. Old Count Isnarde dying, young Bertrand fell as a Ward to the King, and being sent to Paris, remained there under his royall custodie and protection, to no little discomfort of young Juliet, who became greevously afflicted in minde, because she had lost the company of Bertrand.
Within some few yeares after, the Physitian her Father also dyed, and then her desires grew wholly addicted, to visite Paris her selfe in person, onely because she would see the young Count, awaiting but time and opportunitie, to fit her stolne journey thither. But her kindred and friends, to whose care and trust she was committed, in regard of her rich dowrie, and being left as a fatherlesse Orphane: were so circumspect of her walks and daily behaviour, as she could not compasse any meane; of escaping. Her yeares made her now almost fit for marriage, which so much more encreased her love to the Count, making refusall of many woorthy husbands, and laboured by the motions of her friends and kindred, yet all denyed, they not knowing any reason for her refusalles. By this time the Count was become a gallant goodly Gentleman, and able to make election of his wife, whereby her affections were the more violently enflamed, as fearing least some other should be preferred before her, and so her hopes be utterly disappointed.
It was noysed abroad by common report, that the King of France was in a very dangerous condition, by reason of a strange swelling on his stomacke, which failing of apt and convenient curing, became a Fistula, afflicting him daily with extraordinary paine and anguish, no Chirurgeon or Physitian being found, that could minister any hope of healing, but rather encreased the greefe, and drove it to more vehement extreamitie, compelling the King, as dispairing utterly of all helpe, to give over any further counsell or advice. Heereof faire Juliet was wondrously joyfull, as hoping that this accident would prove the meanes, not onely of her journey to Paris, but if the disease were no more then she imagined; she could easily cure it, and thereby compasse Count Bertrand to be her husband. Hereupon, quickning up her wits, with remembrance of those rules of Art, which (by long practise and experience) she had learned of her skilfull Father, she compounded certaine hearbes together, such as she knew fitting for that kinde of infirmity, and having reduced her compound into powder, away she rode forthwith to Paris.
Being there arrived, all other serious matters set aside, first shee must needs have a sight of Count Bertrand, as being the onely Saint that caused her pilgrimage. Next she made meanes for her accesse to the King, humbly entreating his Majesty, to vouchsafe her the sight of his Fistula. When the King saw her, her modest lookes did plainely deliver, that she was a faire, comely, and discreete young Gentlewoman; wherefore, he would no longer hide it, but layed it open to her view. When shee had seene and felt it, presently she put the King in comfort; affirming, that she knew her selfe able to cure his Fistula, saying: Sir, if your Highnesse will referre the matter to me, without any perill of life, or any the least paine to your person, I hope (by the helpe of heaven) to make you whole and sound within eight dayes space. The King hearing her words, beganne merrily to smile at her, saying: How is it possible for thee, being a yong Maiden, to do that which the best Physitians in Europe, are not able to performe? I commend thy kindnesse, and will not remaine unthankefull for thy forward willingnesse: but I am fully determined, to use no more counsell, or to make any further triall of Physicke or Chirurgery. Whereto faire Juliet thus replyed: Great King, let not my skill and experience be despised, because I am young, and a Maiden; for my profession is not Physicke, neither do I undertake the ministering thereof, as depending on mine owne knowledge; but by the gracious assistance of heaven, and some rules of skilfull observation, which I learned of reverend Gerard of Narbona who was my worthy Father, and a Physitian of no meane fame, all the while he lived.
At the hearing of these words, the King began somewhat to admire at her gracious carriage, and saide within himselfe. What know I, whether this Virgin is sent to me by the direction of heaven, or no? Why should I disdaine to make proofe of her skill? Her promise is, to cure me in a small times compasse, and without any paine or affliction to me: she shall not come so farre, to returne againe with the losse of he labour, I am resolved to try her cunning, and thereon saide. Faire Virgin, if you cause me to breake my setled determination, and faile of curing me, what can you expect to follow thereon? Whatsoever great King (quoth she) shall please you. Let me be strongly guarded, yet not hindered, when I am to prosecute the businesse: and then if I do not perfectly heale you within eight daies, let a good fire be made, and therein consume my body unto ashes. But if I accomplish the cure, and set your Highnesse free from all further greevance, what recompence then shall remaine to me?
Much did the King commend the confident perswasion which she had of her owne power, and presently replyed. Faire beauty (quoth he) in regard that thou art a Maide and unmaried, if thou keepe promise, and I finde my selfe to be fully cured: I will match thee with some such Gentleman in marriage, as shall be of honourable and worthy reputation, with a sufficient dowry beside. My gracious Soveraigne saide she, willing am I, and most heirtily thankfull withall, that your Highnesse shall bestow me in marriage: but I desire then, to have such a husband, as I shall desire or demand by your gracious favour, without presuming to crave any of your Sonnes, Kindred, or Alliance, or appertaining unto your Royal blood. Whereto the King gladly granted. Young Juliet began to minister her Physicke, and within fewer dayes then her limited time, the King was sound and perfectly cured; which when he perceived, he saide unto her. Trust me vertuous Mayde, most woorthily hast thou wonne a Husband, name him, and thou shalt have him. Royall King (quoth she) then have I won the Count Bertrand of Roussillion, whom I have most entirely loved from mine Infancy, and cannot (in my soule) affect any other. Very loath was the King to grant her the young Count, but in regard of his solemne passed promise, and his royal word engaged, which he would not by any meanes breake; he commanded, that the Count should be sent for, and spake thus to him. Noble Count, it is not unknowne to us, that you are a Gentleman of great honour, and it is our Royall pleasure, to discharge your wardship, that you may repaire home to your owne House, there to settle your affaires in such order, as you may be the readier to enjoy a Wife, which we intend to bestowe upon you. The Count returned his Highnesse most humble thankes, desiring to know of whence, and what she was? It is this Gentlewoman, answered the King, who (by the helpe of Heaven) hath beene the meanes to save my life. Well did the Count know her, as having very often before seene her; and although she was very faire and amiable, yet in regard of her meane birth, which he held as a disparagement to his Nobility in blood; he made a scorne of her, and spake thus to the King. Would your Highnesse give me a Quacksalver to my Wife, one that deales in drugges and Physicarie? I hope I am able to bestowe my selfe much better then so. Why? quoth the King, wouldst thou have us breake our faith; which for the recovery of our health, we have given to this vertuous virgin, and she will have no other reward, but onely Count Bertrand to be her husband? Sir, replied the Count, you may dispossesse me of all that is mine, because I am your Ward and Subject, any where else you may bestow me: but pardon me to tell you, that this marriage cannot be made with any liking or allowance of mine, neither will I ever give consent thereto.
Sir, saide the King, it is our will that it shall be so, vertuous she is, faire and wise; she loveth thee most affectionately, and with her mayest thou lead a more Noble life, then with the greatest Lady in our Kingdome. Silent, and discontented stoode the Count, but the King commanded preparation for the marriage; and when the appointed time was come, the Count (albeit against his will) received his wife at the Kings hand; she loving him deerly as her owne life. When all was done, the Count requested of the King, that what else remained for further solemnization of the marriage, it might be performed in his owne Country, reserving to himselfe what else he intended. Being mounted on horseback, and humbly taking their leave of the King, the Count would not ride home to his owne dwelling, but into Tuscany, where he heard of a warre between the Florentines and the Senesi, purposing to take part with the Florentines, to whom he was willingly and honourably welcommed, being created Captaine of a worthy Company, and continuing there a long while in service.
The poore forsaken new married Countesse, could scarsely be pleased with such dishonourable unkindnesse, yet governing her impatience with no meane discretion, and hoping by her vertuous carriage, to compasse the meanes of his recall: home she rode to Roussillion, where all the people received her very lovingly. Now, by reason of the Counts so long absence, all things were there farre out of order; mutinies, quarrels, and civill dissentions, having procured many dissolute irruptions, to the expence of much blood in many places. But she, like a jolly stirring Lady, very wise and provident in such disturbances, reduced all occasions to such civility againe, that the people admired her rare behaviour, and condemned the Count for his unkindnesse towards her.
After that the whole Country of Roussillion (by the policy and wisedome of this worthy Lady) was fully reestablished in their ancient liberties; she made choise of two discreet knights, whom she sent to the Count her husband, to let him understand, that if in displeasure to her, hee was thus become a stranger to his owne Country: upon the returne of his answer, to give him contentment, she would depart thence, and by no meanes disturbe him. Roughly and churlishly he replied; Let her do as she list, for I have no determination to dwell with her, or neere where she is. Tell her from me, when she shall have this Ring, which you behold heere on my finger, and a Sonne in her armes begotten by me; then will I come live with her, and be her love. The Ring he made most precious and deere account of, and never tooke it off from his finger, in regard of an especiall vertue and property, which he well knew to be remaining in it. And these two Knights, hearing the impossibility of these two strict conditions, with no other favour else to be derived from him; sorrowfully returned backe to their Lady, and acquainted her with this unkinde answer, as also his unalterable determination, which well you may conceive, must needs be very unwelcome to her.
After she had an indifferent while considered with her selfe, her resolution became so indauntable; that she would adventure to practise such meanes, whereby to compasse those two apparant impossibilities, and so to enjoy the love of her husband. Having absolutely concluded what was to be done, she assembled all the cheefest men of the country, revealing unto them (in mournfull manner) what an attempt she had made already, in hope of recovering her husbands favour, and what a rude answer was thereon returned. In the end, she told them, that it did not sute with her unworthinesse, to make the Count live as an exile from his owne inheritance, upon no other inducement, but onely in regard of her: wherefore, she had determined betweene heaven and her soule, to spend the remainder of her dayes in Pilgrimages and prayers, for preservation of the Counts soule and her owne; earnestly desiring them, to undertake the charge and government of the Country, and signifying unto the Count, how she had forsaken his house, and purposed to wander so farre thence, that never would she visit Roussillion any more. In the deliverie of these words, the Lords and Gentlemen wept and sighed extraordinarily, using many earnest imprecations to alter this resolve in her, but all was in vaine.
Having taken her sad and sorrowfull farewell of them all, accompanied onely with her Maide, and one of her Kinsmen, away she went, attired in a Pilgrimes habit, yet well furnished with money and precious jewels, to avoyde all wants which might: befall her in travaile; not acquainting any one whether she went. In no place stayed she, untill she was arrived at Florence, where happening into a poore Widdowes house, like a poore Pilgrime, she seemed well contented therewith. And desiring to heare some tydings of the Count, the next day shee saw him passe by the house on horse-backe, with his company. Now, albeit shee knew him well enough, yet shee demanded of the good old Widdow, what Gentleman he was? She made answer, that he was a stranger there, yet a Nobleman, called Count Bertrand of Roussillion, a very courteous Knight, beloved and much respected in the City. Moreover, that he was farre in love with a neighbour of hers, a young Gentlewoman, but very poore and meane in substance, yet of honest life, vertuous, and never taxed with any evill report: onely her poverty was the maine imbarment of her marriage, dwelling in house with her mother, who was a wise, honest, and worthy Lady.
The Countesse having well observed her words, and considered thereon from point to point; debating soberly with her owne thoughts, in such a doubtfull case what was best to be done. When she had understood which was the house, the ancient Ladies name, and likewise her daughters, to whom her husband was now so affectionately devoted; she made choise of a fit and convenient time, when (in her Pilgrimes habit) secretly she went to the house. There she found the mother and daughter in poore condition, and with as poore a family: whom after she had ceremoniously saluted, she told the old Lady, that she requested but a little conference with her. The Lady arose, and giving her kinde entertainement, they went together into a withdrawing Chamber, where being both set downe, the Countesse began in this manner.
Madame, in my poore opinion, you are not free from the frownes of Fortune, no more then I my selfe am: but if you were so well pleased, there is no one that can comfort both our calamities in such manner, as you are able to do. And beleeve me answered the Lady, there is nothing in the world that can be so welcome to me, as honest comfort. The Countesse proceeding on in her former speeches said: I have now need (good Madame) both of your trust and fidelity, whereon if I should rely, and you faile me, it will be your owne undoing as well as mine. Speake then boldly, replied the old Lady, and remaine constantly assured, that you shall no way be deceived by me. Hereupon, the Countesse declared the whole course of her love, from the very originall to the instant, revealing also what she was, and the occasion of her comming thither, relating every thing so perfectly, that the Lady verily beleeved her, by some reports which she had formerly heard, and which mooved her the more to compassion. Now, when all circumstances were at full discovered, thus spake the Countesse.
Among my other miseries and misfortunes, which hath halfe broken my heart in the meere repetition, beside the sad and afflicting sufferance; two things there are, which if I cannot compasse to have, all hope is quite frustrate for ever, of gaining the grace of my Lord and Husband. Yet these two things may I obtaine by your helpe, if all be true which I have heard, and you can therein best resolve mee. Since my comming to this City, it hath credibly bene told me, that the Count my husband, is deeply in love with your daughter. If the Count (quoth the Ladie) love my daughter, and have a wife of his owne, he must thinke, and so shall surely finde it, that his greatnesse is no priviledge for him, whereby to worke dishonour upon her poverty. But indeede, some apparances there are, and such a matter as you speake of, may be so presumed; yet so farre from a very thought of entertaining in her or me; as whatsoever I am able to doe, to yeeld you any comfort and content, you shall find me therein both willing and ready: for I prize my daughters spotlesse poverty at as high a rate, as he can doe the pride of his honour.
Madame, quoth the Countesse, most heartily I thanke you. But before I presume any further on your kindnesse, let me first tell you, what faithfully I intend to do for you, if I can bring my purpose to effect. I see that your daughter is beautifull, and of sufficient yeeres for marriage; and is debarred thereof (as I have heard) onely by lack of a competent dowry. Wherefore Madame, in recompence of the favour I expect from you, I will enrich her with so much ready money as you shall thinke sufficient to match her in the degree of honour. Poverty made the poore Lady, very well to like of such a bountifull offer, and having a noble heart shee said: Great Countesse say, wherein am I able to do you any service, as can deserve such a gracious offer? If the action be honest; without blame or scandall to my poore, yet undetected reputation, gladly I will do it; and it being accomplished, let the requitall rest in your owne noble nature.
Observe me then Madame, replied the Countesse. It is most convenient for my purpose, that by some trusty and faithfull messenger, you should advertise the Count my husband, that your daughter is, and shall be at his command: but that she may remaine absolutely assured, that his love is constant to her, and above all other: shee must entreat him, to send her (as a testimony thereof) the Ring which he weareth upon his little finger, albeit shee hath heard, that he loveth it deerly. If he send the Ring, you shall give it me, and afterward send him word, that your daughter is ready to accomplish his pleasure; but, for the more safety and secrecie, he must repaire hither to your house, where I being in bed insteed of your daughter, faire Fortune may so favour mee, that (unknowne to him) I may conceive with childe. Upon which good successe, when time shall serve, having the Ring on my finger, and a childe in my armes begotten by him, his love and liking may be recovered, and (by your meanes) I continue with my Husband, as every vertuous Wife ought to doe.
The good old Lady imagined, that this was a matter somewhat difficult, and might lay a blamefull imputation on her daughter. Neverthelesse, considering, what an honest office it was in her, to bee the meanes, whereby so worthy a Countesse should recover an unkinde husband, led altogether by lust, and not a jot of cordiall love; she knew the intent to be honest, the Countesse vertuous, and her promise religious, and therefore undertooke to effect it. Within few dayes after, verie ingeniously, and according to the instructed order, the Ring was obtayned, albeit much against the Counts will; and the Countesse, in sted of the Ladies vertuous daughter, was embraced by him in bed: the houre proving so auspicious, and juno being Lady of the ascendent, conjoyned with the witty Mercury, shee conceived of two goodly Sonnes, and her deliverance agreed correspondently with the just time. Thus the old Lady, not at this time onely, but at many other meetings besides; gave the Countesse free possession of her husbands pleasures, yet alwayes in such darke and concealed secrecie, as it was never suspected, nor knowne by any but themselves, the Count lying with his owne wife, and disappointed of her whom he more deerely loved. Alwayes at his uprising in the mornings (which usually was before the break of day, for preventing the least scruple of suspicion) many familiar conferences passed betweene them, with the gifts of divers faire: and costly jewels; all which the Countesse carefully kept, and perceiving assuredly, that shee was conceived with childe, shee would no longer bee troublesome to the good old Lady; but calling her aside, spake thus to her. Madame, I must needes give thankes to heaven and you, because my desires are amply accomplished, and both time and your deserts doe justly challenge, that I should accordingly quite you before my departure. It remaineth now in your owne power, to make what demand you please of me, which yet I will not give you by way of reward, because that would seeme to bee base and mercenary: but onely whatsoever you shall receive of me, is in honourable recompence of faire and vertuous deservings, such as any honest and well-minded Lady in the like distresse, may with good credit allow, and yet no prejudice to her reputation.
Although poverty might well have tutored the Ladies tongue, to-demand a liberall recompence for her paines; yet shee requested but an 100 pounds, as a friendly helpe towards her daughters marriage, and that with a bashfull blushing was uttered too; yet the Countesse gave her five hundred pounds, besides so many rich and costly jewels, as amounted to a farre greater summe. So shee returned to her wonted lodging, at the aged widdowes house, where first shee was entertained at her comming to Florence; and the good old Lady, to avoyde the Counts repairing to her house any more, departed thence sodainly with her daughter, to divers friends of hers that dwelt in the Country, whereat the Count was much discontented; albeit afterward, he did never heare any more tidings of hir or her daughter, who was worthily married, to her Mothers great comfort.
Not long after, Count Bertrand was recalled home by his people: and he having heard of his wives absence, went to Roussillion so much the more willingly. And the Countesse knowing her husbands departure from Florence, as also his safe arrivall at his owne dwelling, remained still in Florence, untill the time of her deliverance, which was of two goodly Sonnes, lively resembling the lookes of their Father, and all the perfect lineaments of his body. Perswade your selves, she was not a little carefull of their nursing; and when she saw the time answerable to her determination, she tooke her journey (unknowne to any) and arrived with them at Montpellier, where she rested her selfe for divers dayes, after so long and wearisome a journey.
Upon the day of all Saints, the Count kept a solemne Feastivall, for the assembly of his Lords, Knights, Ladies, and Gentlewomen: upon which Joviall day of generall rejoycing, the Countesse attired in her wonted Pilgrimes weed, repaired thither, entring into the great Hall where the Tables were readily covered for dinner. Preassing through the throng of people, with her two children in her armes, s presumed unto the place where the Count sate, and falling on her knees before him, the teares trickling abundantly downe her cheekes, thus she spake. Worthy Lord, I am thy poore, despised, and unfortunate wife; who, that thou mightst returne home, and not be an exile from thine owne abiding, have thus long gone begging through the world. Yet now at length, I hope thou wilt be so honourably-minded, as to performe thine owne too strict imposed conditions, made to the two Knights which I sent unto thee, and which (by thy command) I was enjoyned to do. Behold here in mine armes, not onely one Sonne by thee begotten, but two Twins, and thy Ring beside. High time is it now, if men of honour respect their promises, and after so long and tedious travell, I should at last be welcommed as thy true wife.
The Count hearing this, stoode as confounded with admiration; for full well he knew the Ring: and both the children were so perfectly like him, as he was confirmed to be their Father by generall judgement. Upon his urging by what possible meanes this could be brought to passe: the Countesse in presence of the whole assembly, and unto her eternall commendation, related the whole history, even in such manner as you have formerly heard it. Moreover, she reported the private speeches in bed, uttered betweene himselfe and her, being witnessed more apparantly, by the costly jewels there openly shewne. All which infallible proofes, proclaiming his shame, and her most noble carriage to her husband; he confessed, that she had told nothing but the truth in every point which she had reported.
Commending her admirable constancy, exceliency of wit, and sprightly courage, in making such a bold adventure; he kissed the two sweete boyes, and to keepe his promise, whereto he was earnestly importuned, by all his best esteemed friends there present, especially the honourable Ladies, who would have no deniall, but by forgetting his former harsh and uncivill carriage towards her, to accept her for ever as his lawfull wife, folding her in his armes, and sweetly kissing her divers times together, he bad her welcome to him, as his vertuous, loyall, and most loving wife, and so (for ever after) he would acknowledge her. Well knew hee that she had store of better beseeming garments in the house, and therefore requested the Ladies to walke with her to her Chamber, to uncase her of those Pilgrimes weeds, and cloath her in her owne more sumptuous garments, even those which shee wore on her wedding day, because that was not the day of his contentment, but onely this; for now he confessed her to be his wife indeede, and now he would give the king thanks for her, and now was Count Bertrand truly married to the faire Juliet of Narbona.[ Hide Ninth Novell ]
Dioneus listened attentively to the Queen's discourse, and when she had done and he knew that only he remained to complete the day's entertainment, without trifling away the time or awaiting a command from the Queen, thus he began.
Gracious ladies, it may be you have not heard how the Devil is put in Hell. Therefore, and since it will not be far off the subject of this day's discourse, I will tell it you. Perhaps, hearing it, you may the better understand that albeit Love more affects gay palaces and luxurious bowers than the cabins of the poor, yet he by no means disdains to manifest his power even in the depths of the forest, on stark mountains and in the caves of the desert; and thus we must acknowledge that all things wheresoever they be are subject to him.
Coming, then, to my story, I must tell you that in Capsa, a city of Barbary, there dwelt aforetime a very rich man, who had among several children a little daughter, fair and of a docile temper, whose name was Alibech.
This girl, a heathen in a place where many were Christian, used often to hear her neighbours extol the Christian faith and devotion to the service of God; wherefore she asked one of them how God could best be served and with the least hindrance. She was told that they best served Him who removed themselves farthest from the things of the world, as in particular the hermits who had withdrawn from the city to the wilds of Thebais.
The simple maiden, aged perhaps some fourteen years, moved rather by a childish whim than any real vocation, set out on the morrow alone and telling nobody to walk into the desert. So firmly was she resolved that after several days of hardship she reached the wilderness of Thebais. From afar she descried a little hut, and coming up to it, found there a holy man. Amazed to see such a one there, he asked what she came to seek. Her answer was that, aspiring towards God, she came thither to serve Him, and in the hope of finding a teacher to that end.
The pious hermit, seeing her so young and fair, was afraid lest the Devil might ensnare him; so he praised her intent, and giving her roots, wild apples and dates to eat and a draught of water, said: "Daughter, not far from here there dwells a holy man such as thou seekest: a fitter man than I. Go thou to him." And he put her on the way.
The second hermit advised her as the first; and faring farther she came to the cell of a young hermit, a very pious and righteous man, whose name was Rustico. To him she repeated her mission. Willing to put his resolution to so great a test, he forebore to send her away, and took her into his cell. At nightfall he made her a bed of palm-leaves, and bade her lie down to rest.
Temptations did not long delay an assault on his constancy; and finding it much beyond his strength to withstand them, he soon gave up the battle, and confessed himself worsted. So putting away all saintly thoughts, prayers and mortifications, he let his mind dwell on the freshness and beauty of his companion. From this he passed to thinking of the best means of bringing her to his desires without giving her cause to suspect him of lewdness. Therefore, satisfying himself by a few questions that she had never had carnal knowledge of a man, and was indeed as innocent as she seemed, he thought of a plan to enjoy her under colour of serving God. He began expounding to her the Devil's enmity to the Almighty, and went on to impress upon her that the most acceptable service she could render to God would be to put the Devil in Hell, whereto the Lord had condemned him.
The little maid asked him how this might be done. "Thou shalt soon learn," replied Rustico, "only do as thou seest me do." Thereupon he took off what few clothes he wore, and stood stark naked; and as soon as the girl had done likewise he fell on his knees as though to pray, and made her kneel face to face with him.
This done, Rustico's desire was more than ever inflamed at the sight of her beauty, and the resurrection of the flesh came to pass. Seeing this, and not knowing what it meant, Alibech asked: "Rustico, what is it thou hast that thrusts itself out in front, and that I have not?" "My daughter," quoth Rustico, "it is that same Devil of whom I have been telling thee. Dost thou mark him? Behold, he gives me such sore trouble that I can hardly bear it."
"The Lord be praised!" said she; "for now I see that I am more blessed than thou in that I have not this Devil."
Rustico retorted: "Thou sayest truly; but thou hast another thing that I have not, and hast it in place of this."
"What is that?" says Alibech.
To this Rustico replied: "Thou hast Hell; and will tell thee my belief that God gave it thee for the health of my soul. For, if thou wilt take pity on me for the troubling of this Devil, and suffer me to put him in Hell, thou wilt comfort me extremely, and at the same time please and serve God in the highest measure; to which end, as thou sayest, thou art come hither."
All unsuspecting, the girl answered. him: "My father, since I have this Hell, let the thing be done when thou desirest it."
Then Rustico said: "Bless thee, my dear daughter; let us go at once and put him in his place, that I may be at peace."
So saying, he laid her on one of their rough beds, and set about showing her how to shut the accursed one in his prison. The girl, who until then had no experience of putting devils in Hell, felt some pain at this first trial of it; which made her say to Rustico: "Father, this Devil must indeed be wicked, and in very sooth an enemy of God, for he hurts Hell itself, let alone other things, when he is put back in it."
"My daughter," said Rustico, "it will not always be so." And to make sure of it, before either of them moved from the bed they put him in six times, after which the Devil hung his head and was glad to let them be.
But in the succeeding days he rose up many times; and the girl, always disposing herself to subdue him, began to take pleasure in the exercise, and to say such things as: "I see now the truth of what the good folk in Capsa told me, that serving God is a delight; for I never remember doing anything that gave me as much joy and pleasure as this putting the Devil in Hell. So I think the people who spend their time otherwise than in serving God must be very foolish."
Often she would come to Rustico and say: "Father, I came hither to serve God, not to stand idle. Let us go put the Devil in Hell." And once, when it had been done, she asked: "Rustico, why does he want to get out of Hell? If only he would stay there as willingly as Hell takes him in and holds him, he would never want to come out at all." By thus constantly egging him on and exhorting him to God's service the girl so preyed upon Rustico that he shivered with cold when another man would have sweated. He had perforce to tell her that it was not just to punish the Devil by putting him in Hell save when he had lifted his head in pride; and that by God's mercy they had so chastened him that he only implored Heaven to be left in peace. Thus for a time he silenced her.
But she, finding that Rustico did not call on her to put the Devil in Hell, said one day: "Even though your Devil is punished and no longer troubles you, my Hell gives me no peace. You will do a charity if with your Devil you will quiet the raging of my Hell, as with my Hell I tamed the pride of your Devil To these demands Rustico on a diet of herbs and water could ill respond; and he told her that to appease Hell would need too many devils, none the less he would do all that in him lay. At times he could satisfy her, but so seldom that it was like feeding an elephant with peas. Therefore the girl thought she was not serving God as well as she would like, and she grumbled most of the time.
Whilst things stood thus amiss between Rustico's Devil and Alibech's Hell, for overmuch eagerness of the one part and too little performance of the other, a fire broke out in Capsa and burned the father of Alibech with his children and every one of his kin, so that Alibech became the sole heiress to his goods. Whereupon a certain Neerbale, a young man who had wasted his patrimony in high living, sought for Alibech in the belief that she was alive, and succeeded in finding her before the Court had declared her father's goods forfeit as being without an owner. Much to the relief of Rustico and against the girl's will, Neerbale brought her back to Capsa and married her, so becoming entitled in her right to a large fortune.
One day, when as yet Neerbale had not lain with her, some of her women asked how she had served God in the desert. She replied that she had served Him by putting the Devil in Hell, and that Neerbale had committed a grievous sin in taking her from such pious work. Then they asked: "How is the Devil put in Hell?" To which the girl answered with words and gestures showing how it had been done. The women laughed so heartily that they have not done laughing yet, and said to her: "Grieve not, my child; that is done as well here. Neerbale will serve God right well with thee in this way."
As one repeated the words to another throughout the town, it became a familiar saying that the most acceptable of all services to God is to put the Devil in Hell. The saying has crossed the sea and become current among us, as it still is.
Wherefore, young ladies, I beseech you if you would deserve Heaven's grace, lend yourselves to the putting of the Devil in Hell; for it is a thing beloved of God, pleasing to the participants, and one from which much good comes and ensues.
A thousand times and more were the chaste ladies moved to laughter by Dioneus's novel, so much were his phrases to their liking. And the Queen perceiving that as his tale was ended, her office had expired, took the crown of laurel from her head and graciously placed it on the head of Philostratus, saying: "Now we shall see whether the wolf will rule the sheep better than the sheep ruled the wolves." At this Philostratus laughed, and retorted: "If I had my way, the wolves would have taught the sheep to put the Devil in Hell, no less well than Rustico taught Alibech. Since we did not, call us not wolves, for ye were no sheep. Howbeit, I will reign as best I may, seeing ye have laid the trust on me."
Neiphila cried out: "Mark this, Philostratus; in trying to teach us you might have had such a lesson as Masetto di Lamporechio had of the nuns, and recovered your speech just as your bare bones had learned to whistle without a master." Finding himself thus evenly matched, Philostratus ceased his pleasantries; and beginning to consider on the charge committed to his care, called the Master of the houshold, to know in what estate all matters were, because where any defect appeared, every thing might be the sooner remedied, for the better satisfaction of the company, during the time of his authority. Then returning backe to the assembly, thus he began. Lovely Ladies, I would have you to know, that since the time of ability in me, to distinguish betweene good and evill, I have alwayes bene subject (perhaps by the meanes of some beauty heere among us) to the proud and imperious dominion of love, with expression of all duty, humility, and most intimate desire to please yet all hath prooved to no purpose, but still I have bin rejected for some other, whereby my condition hath falne from ill to worse, and so still it is likely, even to the houre: of my death. In which respect, it best pleaseth me, that our conferences to morrow, shall extend to no other argument, bit only such cases as are most conformable to my calamity, namely of such, whose love hath had unhappy ending, because I await no other issue of mine; nor willingly would I be called by any other name, but only, the miserable and unfortunate Lover.
Having thus spoken, he arose againe; granting leave to the rest, to recreate themselves till supper time. The Garden was very faire and spacious, affoording, large limits for their severall walkes; the Sun being already so low descended, that it could not be offensive to any one, the Connies, Kids, and young Hindes skipping every where about them, to their no meane, pleasure and contentment, Dioneus and Fiammetta, sate singing together, of Messire Guiglielmo, and the Lady of Vertur. Philomena and Pamphilus playing at the Chesse, all sporting themselves as best they pleased. But the houre of Supper being come, and the Tables covered about the faire fountaine, they sate downe and supt in most loving manner. Then Philostratus, not to swerve from the course which had beene observed by the Queenes before him, so soone as the Tables were taken away, gave commaund that Madam Lauretta should beginne the dance, and likewise to sing a Song. My gracious Lord (quoth she) I can skill of no other Songs, but onely a peece of mine owne, which I have already learned by heart, and may well beseeme this assembly: if you please to allow of that, I am ready to performe it with all obedience. Lady, replyed the King, you your selfe being so faire and lovely, so needs must be whatsoever commeth from you, therefore let us heare such as you have. Madam Lauretta, giving enstruction to the Chorus prepared, and began in this manner.
THE SONGNo soule so comfortlesse,
He that did forme the Heavens and every Starre,
Made me as best him pleased,
Lovely and gracious, no Element at jarre,
Or else in gentle breasts to moove sterne Warre,
But to have strifes appeased
Where Beauties eye should make the deepest scarre.
And yet when all things are confest,
Never was any soule distrest,
Like my poore amorous Maide.
No soule so comfortlesse, etc.
There was a time, when once I was held deare,
Blest were those happy dayes:
Numberlesse Love suites whispred in mine eare,
All of faire hope, but none of desperate feare;
And all sung Beauties praise.
Why should blacke cloudes obscure so bright a cleare?
And why should others swimme in joy,
And no heart drowned in annoy,
Like mine poore amorous Maide?
No soule so comfortlesse, etc.
Well may I curse that sad and dismall day,
When in unkinde exchange;
Another Beauty did my hopes betray,
And stole my dearest Love from me away:
Which I thought very strange,
Considering vowes were past, and what else may
Assure a loyall Maidens trust.
Never was Lover so unjust,
Like mine poore amorous Maide.
No soule so comfortlesse, etc.
Come then kinde Death, and finish all my woes,
Thy helpe is now the best.
Come lovely Nymphes, lend hands mine eyes to close,
And let him wander wheresoere he goes,
Vaunting of mine unrest;
Beguiling others by his treacherous showes.
Grave on my Monument,
No true love was worse spent,
Then mine poore amorous Maide.
No soule so comfortlesse, etc.
So did Madam Lauretta finish her Song, which being well observed of them all, was understood by some in divers kinds: some alluding it one way, and others according to their owne apprehensions, but all consenting that both it was an excellent Ditty, well devised, and most sweetly sung. Afterward, lighted Torches being brought, because the Stars had already richly spangled all the heavens, and the fit houre of rest approaching: the King commanded them all to their Chambers, where we meane to leave them untill the next morning.[ Hide Tenth Novell ]