When The Assembly Being Met Together, And Under The Regiment Of Dioneus: The Discourses Are Directed, For The Discoverie Of Such Policies And Deceites, As Women Have Used For Beguiling Of Their Husbandes, Either In Respect Of Their Love, Or For The Prevention Of Some Blame Or Scandall, Escaping Without Sight, Knowledge, Or Otherwise.
All the Starres were departed out of East, but onely that, which commonly cal bright Lucifer, the Day-Star, gracing the morning very gloriously: when the Master of the household, being risen, went with all the provision, to the Valley of Ladies, to make everie thing in due and decent readines, according as his Lord over-night had commanded him. After which departure of his, it was not long before the King arose, beeing awaked with the noise which the carriages made; and when he was up, the other two Gentlemen and the Ladies were quickly readie soone after.
Such as were so disposed, were licensed by the King to take their rest: and they that would not, he permitted them to their wonted pastimes, each according to their minds. But when they were risen from sleepe, and the rest from their other exercises, it seemed to be more then high time, that they should prepare for talke and conference. So, sitting downe on Turky Carpets, which were spred abroad on the green grasse, and close by the place where they had dined: the King gave command, that Madam Aemillia should first begin, whereto she willingly yeelding obedience, and expecting such silent attention, as formerly had bin, thus she began.[Hide Induction]
My Gracious Lord (quoth Madame Aemillia) it had bene a matter highly pleasing to mee, that any other (rather then my selfe) should have begun to speake of this argument, which it hath pleased you to apoint. But seeing it is your Highnesse pleasure, that I must make a passage of assurance for all the rest; I will not be irregular, because obedience is our cheefe Article. I shall therefore (Gracious Ladies) strive, to speake something, which may bee advantageable to you heereafter, in regard, that if other women bee as fearfull as we, especially of Spirits, of which all our sexe have generally bin timorous (although, upon my credite, I know not what they are, nor ever could meete with any, to tell me what they be) you may, by the diligent observation of my Novell: learne a wholsome and holy prayer, very availeable, and of precious power, to conjure and drive them away, whensoever they shall presume to assault you in any place.
There dwelt sometime in Florence, and in the street of Saint Brancazio, a woollen Weaver, named John of Lorrayne; a man more happy in his Art, then wise in any thing else beside: because, savouring somewhat of the Gregorie, and (in very deede) little lesse then an Ideot; Hee was many times made Captain of the Woollen Weavers, in the quarters belonging to Santa Maria Novella, and his house was the Schoole or receptacle, for all their meetings and assemblies. He had divers other petty Offices beside, by the gnity and authority whereof, hee supposed himselfe much exalted or elevated, above the common pitch of other men. And this humour became the more tractable to him, because he addicted himselfe oftentimes (as being a man of an easie inclination) to be a benefactor to the holy Fathers of Santa Maria Novella, giving (beside his other charitable Almes) to some one a paire of Breeches, to another a Hood, and to another a whole habit. In reward whereof, they taught him (by heart) many wholsome prayers, as the Pater noster in the vulgar tongue; the Song of Saint Alexis; the Lamentations of Saint Bernard, the Hymne of Madame Matilda, and many other such like matters, which he kept charily, and repeated usually, as tending to the salvation of his soule.
This man, had a very faire and lovely wife, named Monna Tessa, the daughter of Manuccio della Cuculia, wise and well advised; who knowing the simplicity of her Husband, and affecting Frederigo di Neri Pegolotti, who was a comely yong Gentleman, fresh, and in the floure of his time, even as she was, therefore they agreed the better together. By meanes of her Chambermaid, Frederigo and shee met often together, at a Countrie Farme of John of Lorraynes, which hee had neere to Florence, and where she used to lodge all the Summer time, called Camerata, whether John resorted somtimes to Supper, and lodge for a night, returning home againe to his City house the next morning; yet often he would stay there longer with his owne companions.
Frederigo, who was no meane man in his Mistresses favor, and therefore these private meetings the more welcome to him; received a summons or assignation from her, to be there on such a night, when hir husband had no intent of comming thither. There they supped merrily together, and (no doubt) did other things, nothing appertaining to our purpose, she both acquainting, and well instructing him, in a dozen (at the least) of her Husbands devout prayers. Nor did shee make any account, or Frederigo either, that this should be the last time of their meeting, because (indeede) it was not the first: and therfore they set downe an order and conclusion together (because the Chambermaide must be no longer the messenger) in such manner as you shall heare.
Frederigo was to observe especially, that alwayes when hee went or came from his owne house, which stood much higher then John of Lorraynes did, to looke upon a Vine, closely adjoyning to her house, where stood the scull of an Asses head, advanced upon an high pole; and when the face thereof looked towards Florence, he might safely come, it being an assured signe, that John kept at home. And if he found the doore fast shut, he should softly knocke three severall times, and thereon bee admitted entrance. But if the face stood towards Fiesola; then he might not come, for it was the signe of Johns being there, and then there might be no medling at all.
Having thus agreed upon this conclusion, and had many merry meetings together: one night above the rest, when Frederigo was appointed to suppe with Monna Tessa, who had made ready two fat Capons, drest in most dainty and delicate manner: it fell out so unfortunately, that John (whose Kue was not to come that night) came thither very late, yet before Frederigo, wherewith she being not a little offended, gave John a slight supper, of Lard, Bacon, and such like coarse provision, because the other was kept for a better guest. In the meane time, and while John was at supper, the Maide (by her Mistresses direction) had conveighed the two Capons, with boyled Eggs, Bread and a Bottle of Wine (all folded up in a faire cleane table cloth) into her Garden, that a passage to it, without entering into the house, and where shee had divers times supt with Frederigo. She further willed the Maide, to set all those things under a Peach tree, which adjoyned to the fields side: but, so angry she was at her husbands unexpected comming, that shee forgot to bid her tarrie there, till Frederigoes comming, and to tell him of Johns being there: as also, to take what he found prepared readie for his Supper.
John and she being gone to bed together, and the Maide likewise, it was not long after, before Frederigo came, and knocking once softly at the doore, which was very neere to their lodging Chamber, John heard the noise, and so did his wife. But to the end, that John might not have the least scruple of suspition, she seemed to be fast asleepe; and Frederigo pausing a while, according to the order directed, knockt againe the second time. John wondering thereat very much, jogd his wife a litle, and saide to her: Tessa, hearest thou nothing? Methinkes one knocketh at our doore. Monna Tessa, who was better acquainted with the knocke, then plaine honest meaning John was, dissembling as if shee awaked out of a drowsie dreame, saide: Alas Husband, dost thou know what this is? In the name of our blessed Ladie, be not affraid, this is but the Spirit which haunts our Countrey houses, whereof I have often told thee, and it hath many times much dismayed me, living heere alone without thy comfort. Nay, such hath bin my feare, that in divers nights past, so soone as I heard the knockes: I was feigne to hide my selfe in the bedde over-head and eares (as we usually say) never daring to be so bold, as to looke out, untill it was broad open day. Arise good wife (quoth John) and if it be such a Spirit of the Countrey, as thou talkest of, never be affraid; for before we went to bed, I said the Telucis, the Intemerata, with many other good prayers beside. Moreover, I made the signe of the Crosse at every corner of our bed, in the name of the Father, Son, and holy Ghost, so that no doubt at all needs to be made, of any power it can have to hurt or touch us.
Monna Tessa, because (perhaps) Frederigo might receive some other suspition, and so enter into distaste of her by anger or offence: determined to arise indeede, and to let him covertly understand, that John was there, and therefore saide to her husband. Beleeve me John, thy counsell is good, and every one of thy words hath wisedome in it: but I hold it best for our owne safety, thou being heere; that wee should conjure him quite away, to the end he may never more haunt our house. Conjure him Wife? Quoth John, By what meanes? and how? Bee patient good man (quoth Tessa) and I will enstruct thee, I have learned an excellent kinde of conjuration; for, the last weeke, when I went to procure the pardons at Fiesola, one of the holy recluse Nuns, who (indeede John) is my indeered Sister and Friend, and the most sanctimonius in life of them all; perceiving me to be troubled and terrified by Spirits; taught me a wholsome and holy prayer, and protested withall, that shee had often made experiment thereof, before she became a Recluse, and found it (alwayes) a present helpe to her. Yet never durst I adventure to essay it, living heere by my selfe all alone: but honest John, seeing thou art heere with me, we will go both together, and conjure this Spirit. John replyed, that he was very willing; and being both up, they went fayre and softly to the doore, where Frederigo stoode still without, and was growne somewhat suspitious of his long attendance.
When they were come to the doore, Monna Tessa said to John: Thou must cough and spet, at such time as I shall bid thee. Well (quoth John) I will not faile you. Immediately she beganne her prayer in this manner.
Spirit, that walkst thus in the night,
Poore Countrey people to affright:
Thou hast mistane thy marke and ayme,
The head stood right, but John home came,
And therefore thou must packe away,
For I have nothing else to say:
But to my Garden get the gone,
Under the Peach-tree stands alone,
There shalt thou finde two Capons drest,
And Egges laide in mine owne Hennes nest,
Bread, and a Bottle of good Wine,
All wrapt up in a cloath most fine.
Is not this good Goblins fare?
Packe and say you have your share;
Not doing harme to John or me,
Who this night keepes me companie.
No sooner had she ended her devoute conjuring prayer, but she saide to her husband: Now John, cough and spet: which John accordingly did. And Frederigo, being all this while without, hearing her witty conjuration of a Spirit, which he himselfe was supposed to be, being ridde of his former jealous suspition: in the middst of all his melancholy, could very hardly refraine from laughing, the jest appeared so pleasing to him: But when John cought and spet, softly he said to himselfe: When next thou spetst, spet out all thy teeth.
The woman having three severall times conjured the Spirite, in such manner as you have already heard; returned to bed againe with her husband: and Frederigo, who came as perswaded to sup with her, being supperlesse all this while; directed by the words of Monna Tessa in hir praier, went into the Garden. At the foot of the Peach-tree, there he found the linnen cloth, with the two hot Capons, Bread, Egges, and a Bottle of Wine in it, all which he carried away with him, and went to Supper at better leysure. Oftentimes afterward, upon other meetings of Frederigo and she together, they laughed heartily at her enchantment, and the honest beleefe of silly John.
I cannot deny, but that some do affirme, that the Woman had turned the face of the Asses head towards Fiesola, and a Country Travailer passing by the Vine, having a long piked staffe on his necke: the staffe (by chance) touched the head, and made it turne divers times about, and in the end faced Florence, which being the cal for Frederigoes comming, by this meanes he was disappointed. In like manner some say, that Monna Tessaes prayer for conjuring the Spirit, was in this order.
Spirit, Spirit, thy way,
And come againe some other day.
It was not I that turnd the head,
But some other. In our Bed
Are John and I: Go from our dore,
And see thou trouble us no more.
So that Frederigo departed thence, both with the losse of his labour and supper. But a neighbour of mine, who is a woman of good yeares, told me, that both the one and other were true, as she her selfe heard, when she was a little Girle. And concerning the latter accident, it was not to John of Lorrayne, but to another, named John de Nello, that dwelt at S. Peters Gate, and of the same profession as John of Lorrayne was. Wherefore (faire Ladies) it remaineth in your owne choice, to entertain which of the two prayers you please, or both together if you will: for they are of extraordinary vertue in such strange occurrences, as you have heeretofore heard, and (upon doubt) may prove by experience. It shall not therefore be amisse for you, to learne them both by hart, for (peradventure) they may stand you in good sted, if ever you chance to have the like occasion.[ Hide First Novell ]
Not without much laughter and good liking, was the Tale of Madame Aemillia listened unto, and both the prayers commended to be sound and soveraigne: but it being ended, the King commaunded Philostratus, that hee should follow next in order, whereupon thus he began.
Deare Ladies, the deceites used by men towards your sexe, but especially Husbands, have bene so great and many, as when it hath sometime happened, or yet may, that husbands are requited in the self-same kinde: you need not finde fault at any such accident, either by knowledge thereof afterward, or hearing the same reported by any one; but rather you should referre it to generall publication, to the end, that immodest men may know, and finde it for trueth, that if they have apprehension and capacity; women are therein not a jote inferiour to them. Which cannot but redound to your great benefite, because, when any one knoweth, that another is as cunning and subtile as himselfe; he will not be so rashly adventurous in deceite. And who maketh any doubt, that if those sleights and trickes, whereof this dayes argument may give us occasion to speake, should afterwardes be put in execution by men: would it not minister just reason, of punishing themselves for beguiling you, knowing, that (if you please) you have the like abilitie in your owne power? Mine intent therefore is to tell you, what a woman (though but of meane qualitie) did to her husband, upon a sodaine, and in a moment (as it were) for her owne safety.
Not long since, there lived in Naples, an honest meane man, who did take to Wife, a fayre and lustie young Woman, being named Peronella.-He professing the Trade of a Mason, and shee Carding and Spinning, maintained themselves in a reasonable condition, abating and abounding as their Fortunes served. It came to passe, that a certayne young man, well observing the beauty and good parts of Peronella, became much addicted in affection towardes her: and by his often and secret sollicitations, which he found not to be unkindely entertayned; his successe proved answerable to his hope, no unindifferencie appearing in their purposes, but where her estate seemed weakest, his supplies made an addition of more strength.
Now, for their securer meeting, to stand cleare from all matter of scandal or detection, they concluded in this order between themselves. Lazaro, for so was Peronellaes Husband named, being an earely riser every morning, either to seeke for worke, or to effect it being undertaken: this amorous friend being therewith acquainted, and standing in some such convenient place, where hee could see Lazaroes departure from his house, and yet himselfe no way discerned; poore Lazaro was no sooner gone, but presently he enters the house, which stood in a verie solitarie street, called the Avorio. Many mornings had they thus met together, to their no meane delight and contentation, till one especial morning among the rest, when Lazaro was gone forth to worke, and Striguario (so was the amorous young man named) visiting Peronella in the house: upon a verie urgent occasion, Lazaro returned backe againe, quite contrary to his former wont, keeping foorth all day, and never comming home till night.
Finding his doore to be fast lockt, and he having knockt softlie once or twice, he spake in this manner to himselfe. Fortune I thanke thee, for albeit thou hast made mee poore, yet thou hast bestowed a better blessing on me, in matching me with so good, honest, and loving a Wife. Behold, though I went early out of my house, her selfe hath risen in the cold to shut the doore, to prevent the entrance of theeves, or any other that might offend us. Peronella having heard what her husband sayde, and knowing the manner of his knocke, said fearfully to Striguario. Alas deare friend, what shall wee doe? I am little lesse then a dead Woman: For, Lazaro my Husband is come backe again, and I know not what to do or say. He never returned in this order before now, doubtlesse, hee saw when you entred the doore; and for the safety of your honour and mine: creepe under this brewing Fat, till I have opened the doore, to know the reason of his so soone returning.
Striguario made no delaying of the matter, but got himselfe closelie under the Fat, and Peronella opening the doore for her husbands enterance, with a frowning countenance, spake thus unto him. What meaneth this so early returning home againe this morning? It seemeth, thou intendest to do nothing to day, having brought backe thy tooles in thy hands? If such be thine intent, how shall we live? Where shal we have bread to fill our bellies? Dooest thou thinke, that I will suffer thee to pawne my gowne, and other poore garments, as heeretofore thou hast done? I that card and spinne both night and day, till I have worne the flesh from my fingers; yet all will hardly finde oyle to maintaine our Lampe. Husband, husband, there is not one neighbour dwelling by us, but makes a mockerie of me, and tels me plainly, that I may be ashamed to drudge and moyle as I do; wondering not a little, how I am able to endure it; and thou returnest home with thy hands in thy hose, as if thou hadst no worke at all to do this day.
Having thus spoken, she fell to weeping, and then thus began again. Poore wretched woman as I am, in an unfortunate houre was I borne, and in a much worse, when I was made thy Wife. I could have had a proper, handsome yong man; one, that would have maintained mee brave and gallantly: but, beast as I was, to forgoe my good, and cast my selfe away on such a beggar as thou art, and whom none wold have had, but such an Asse as I. Other women live at hearts ease, and in jollity, have their amorous friends and loving Paramours, yea, one, two, three at once, making their husbands looke like a Moone cressent, wheron they shine Sun-like, with amiable lookes, because they know not how to helpe it: when I (poore foole) live heere at home a miserable life, not daring once to dreame of such follies, an innocent soule, heartlesse and harmelesse.
Many times, sitting and sighing to my selfe: Lord, thinke I, of what mettall am I made? Why should not I have a Friend in a corner, aswell as others have? I am flesh and blood, as they are, not made of brasse or iron, and therefore subject to womens frailty. would thou shouldest know it husband, and I tell it thee in good earnest; That if I would doe ill, I could quickely finde a friend at a neede. Gallants there are good store, who (of my knowledge) love me dearely, and have made me very large and liberall promises, of Golde, Silver, jewels, and gay Garments, if I would extend them the least favour. But my heart will not suffer me, I never was the daughter of such a mother, as had so much as a thought of such matters: no, I thanke our blessed Ladie, and S. Friswid for it: and yet thou returnest home againe, when thou shouldst be at Worke.
Lazaro, who stoode all this while like a well-beleeving Logger-head, demurely thus answered. Alas good Wife! I pray you bee not so angry, I never had so much as an ill thought of you, but know wel enough what you are, and have made good proofe thereof this morning. Understand therefore patiently (sweet Wife) that I went forth to my work as dayly I use to do, little dreaming (as I thinke you doe not) that it had bene Holyday. Wife, this is the Feast day of Saint Galeone; whereon we may in no wise worke, and this is the reason of my so soone returning. Neverthelesse (dear Wife) I was not carelesse of our Houshold provision: For, though we worke not, yet we must have foode, which I have provided for more then a moneth. Wife, I remembred the brewing Fat, whereof we have little or no use at all, but rather it is a trouble to the house, then otherwise. I met with an honest Friend, who stayeth without at the doore, to him I have sold the Fat for ten Gigliatoes, and he tarrieth to take it away with him.
How Husband? replied Peronella, Why now I am worse offended then before. Thou that art a man, walkest every where, and shouldst be experienced in worldly affaires: wouldst thou bee so simple, as to sell such a brewing Fat for ten Gigliatoes? Why, I that am a poore ignorant woman, a house Dove, sildome going out of my doore: have sold it already for twelve Gigliatoes, to a very honest man, who (even a little before thy comming home) came to me, we agreed on the bargaine, and he is now underneath the Fat, to see whether it be sound or no. When credulous Lazaro heard this, he was better contented then ever, and went to him that taried at the doore, saying. Good man, you may goe your way, for, whereas you offered me but ten Gigliatoes for the Fat, my loving wife hath sold it for twelve, and I must maintaine what shee hath done: so the man departed, and the variance ended.
Peronella then saide to her husband. Seeing thou art come home so luckily, helpe me to lift up the Fat, that the man may come foorth, and then you two end the bargaine together. Striguario, who thogh he was mewed up under the tubbe, had his eares open enough; and hearing the witty excuse of Peronella, tooke himselfe free from future feare: and being come from under the Fat, pretending also, as if he had herd nothing, nor saw Lazaro, looking round about him, said. Where is this good woman? Lazaro stepping forth boldly like a man, replyed: Heere am I, what would you have Sir? Thou? quoth Striguario, what art thou? I ask for the good wife, with whom I made my match for the Fat. Honest Gentleman (answered Lazaro) I am that honest Womans Husband, for lacke of a better, and I will maintaine whatsoever my Wife hath done.
I crie you mercie Sir, replyed Striguario, I bargained with your Wife for this brewing Fat, which I finde to be whole and sound: only it is uncleane within, hard crusted with some dry soile upon it, which I know not well how to get off, if you will be the meanes of making it cleane, I have the money heere ready for it. For that Sir (quoth Peronella) take you no care, although no match at all had beene made, what serves my Husband for, but to make it cleane? Yes forsooth Sir, answered sily Lazaro, you shall have it neate and cleane before you pay the mony.
So, stripping himselfe into his shirt lighting a Candle, and taking tooles fit for the purpose; the Fat was whelmed over him, and he being within it, wrought untill he sweated, with scraping and scrubbing. So that these poore Lovers, what they could not accomplish as they wold, necessity enforced them to performe as they might. And Peronella, looking in at the vent-hole, where the Liquor runneth forth for the meshing; seemed to instruct her husband in the businesse, as espying those parts where the Fat was fowlest, saying: There, there Lazaro, tickle it there, the Gentleman payes well for it, and is worthy to have it: but see thou do thy selfe no harme good Husband. I warrant thee Wife, answered Lazaro, hurt not your selfe with leaning your stomacke on the Fat, and leave the cleansing of it to me. To be breefe, the Brewing Fat was neatly cleansed, Peronella and Striguario both well pleased, the money paide, and honest meaning Lazaro not discontented.[ Hide Second Novell ]
Philostratus told not this Tale so covertly, concerning Lazaros simplicity, and Peronellaes witty policy; but the Ladies found a knot in the rush, and laughed not a little, at his queint manner of discoursing it. But upon the conclusion, the King looking upon Madam Eliza, willed her to succeede next, which as willingly she granted, and thus began. Pleasant Ladies, the charme or conjuration wherwith Madam Aemillia laid her night-walking Spirit, maketh me remember a Novell of another enchantment; which although it carrieth not commendation equall to the other, yet I intend to report it, because it suteth with our present purpose, and I cannot sodainly be furnisht with another, answerable thereto in nature.
You are to understand then, that there lived in Siena, a proper yong man, of good birth and well friended, being named Reynard. Earnestly he affected his neere dwelling neighbour, a beautifull Gentlewoman, and wife to a man of good esteeme: of whom hee grew halfe perswaded, that if he could (without suspition) compasse private conference with her, he should reach the height of his amorous desires. Yet seeing no likely meanes wherewith to further his hope, and shee being great with childe, he resolved to become a Godfather to the childe, at such time as it should be brought to Christening. And being inwardly acquainted with her Husband, who was named Credulano; such familiar intercourses passed betweene them, both of Reynards kinde offer, and Credulanoes as courteous acceptance, that hee was set downe for a Gossippe.
Reynard being thus embraced for Madam Agnesiaes Gossip, and this proving the onely colourable meanes, for his safer permission of speech with her, to let her now understand by word of mouth, what long before she collected by his lookes and behaviour: it fell out no way beneficiall to him, albeit Agnesia seemed not nice or scrupulous in hearing, yet she had a more precious care of her honor. It came to passe, within a while after (whether by seeing his labour vainly spent, or some other urgent occasion moving him thereto, I know not) Reynard would needs enter into Religion, and whatsoever strictnesse or austeritie hee found to be in that kinde of life, yet he determined to persevere therein, whether it were for his good or ill. And although within a short space, after he was thus become a Religious Monke, hee seemed to forget the former love which he bare to his gossip Agnesia, and divers other enormous vanities beside: yet let me tell you, successe of time tutord him in them again(!; and, without any respect to his poore ho habite, but rather in contempt thereof (as it were) he tooke an especiall delight, in wearing garments of much richer esteeme, yet favoured by the same Monasticall profession, appearing (in all respects) like a Court-Minion or Favourite, of a sprightly and Poeticall disposition, for composing Verses, Sonnets, and Canzons, singing them to sundry excellent instruments, and yet not greatly curious of his company, so they were some of the best, and Madame Agnesia one, his former Gossip.
But why doe I trouble my selfe, in talking thus of our so lately converted Friar, holy Father Reynard, when they of longer standing, and reputed meerely for Saints in life, are rather much more vile then hee? Such is the wretched condition of this world, that they shame not (fat, foggie, and nastie Abbey-lubbers) to shew how full-fedde they live in their Cloysters, with cherry cheekes, and smooth shining lookes, gay and gaudy garments, far from the least expression of humility, not walking in the streets like Doves: but high-crested like Cockes, with well cramd gorges. Nay, which is worse, if you did but see their Chambers furnished with Gally-pots of Electuaries, precious Unguents, Apothecary Boxes, filled with various Confections, Conserves, excellent Perfumes, and other goodly Glasses of artificiall Oyles and Waters: beside Rundlets and small Barrels full of Greeke Wine, Muscatella, Lachrime Christi, and other such like most precious Wines, so that (to such as see them) they seeme not to bee Chambers of Religious men; but rather Apothecaries Shoppes, or appertaining to Druggists, Grocers, or Perfumers.
It is no disgrace to them to be Gowty; because when other men know it not, they alledge, that strict fasting, feeding on grosse Meates (though never so little,) continuall studying, and such like restraints from the bodies freer exercise, maketh them subject to many infirmities. And yet, when any one of them chanceth to fall sicke, the Physitian must minister no such counsell to them, as Chastity, Abstinence from voluptuous meats, Discipline of the body, or any of those matters appertaining to a modest religious life. For, concerning the plaine, vulgar, and Plebeian people, these holy Fathers are perswaded, that they know nothing really belonging to a sanctimonious life; as long watching, praying, discipline and fasting, which (in themselves) are not able, to make men look leane, wretched, and pale. Because Saint Dominicke, Saint Fraunces, and divers other holy Saints beside, observed the selfesame religious orders and constitutions, as now their carefull successors do. Moreover, in example of those fore-named Saints, who went wel cloathed, though they had not three Garments for one, nor made of the finest Woollen excellent cloath: but rather of the very coarsest of all other, and of the common ordinary colour, to expell cold onely, but not to appear brave or gallant, deceyving thereby infinite simple credulous soules, whose purses (neverthelesse) are their best pay-masters.
But leave we this, and returne wee backe to vertuous Fryar Reynard, who falling again& to his former appetites; became an often visitant of his Gossip Agnesia, and now hee had learned such a blushlesse kinde of boldnesse; that he durst be more instant with her (concerning his privie sute) then ever formerly he had bin, yea even to solicite the enjoying of his immodest desires. The good Gentlewoman, seeing her selfe so importunately pursued, and Friar Reynard appearing now (perhappes) of sweeter and more delicate complexion, the at his entrance into Religion: at a set time of his secret communing with her; she answered him in as apt tearmes, as they use to do, who are not greatly sqeamish, in granting matters demanded of them.
Why how now Friar Reynard? quoth shee, Doe Godfathers use to move such questions? Whereto the Friar thus replyed. Madam, when I have laide off this holy habite (which is a matter very easie for mee to do) I shall seeme in your eye, in all respects made like another man, quite from the course of any Religious life. Agnesia, biting the lip with a prety smile, said; O my faire Starres! You will never bee so unfriendly to me. What? You being my Gossip, would you have me consent unto such a sinne? Our blessed Lady shield mee, for my ghostly Father hath often told me, that it is utterly unpardonable: but if it were, I feare too much confiding on mine owne strength. Gossip, the Friar, you speake like a Foole, and feare (in this case) is wholly frivolous, especially, when the motions mooved by such an one as my selfe, who (upon repentance) can grant you pardon and indulgence presently. But I pray you let mee aske you one question, Who is the neerest Kinsman to your Son; either I, that stood at the Font for his Baptisme, or your Husband that begot him? The Lady made answere, that it was her Husband. You say very true Gossip, replyed the Friar, and yet notwithstanding, doth not your Husband (both at boord and bed) enjoy the sweet benefit of your company? Yes, said the Lady, why shold he not? Then Lady (quoth Reynard) I, who am not so neere a Kinsman to your Sonne, as your Husband is, why may ye not afford mee the like favour, as you do him? Agnesia, who was no Logitian, and therefore could not stand on any curious answer, especially being so cuningly moved; beleeved, or rather made shew of beleeving, that the Godfather said nothing but truth, and thus answered. What woman is she (Gossip) that knoweth how to answer your strange speeches? And, how it came to passe, I know not, but such an agreement passed betweene them, that, for once onely (so it might not infrindge the league of Gossip-ship, but that title to countenance their further intent) such a favour should be affoorded, so it might stand cleare from suspition.
An especiall time being appointed, when this amorous Combate should be fought in loves field, Friar Reynard came to his Gossips house, where none being present to hinder his purpose, but onely the Nursse which attended on the child, who was an indifferent faire and proper woman: his holy brother that came thither in his company (because Friars were not allowed to walke alone) was sent aside with her into the Pigeon loft, to enstruct her in a new kinde of Pater noster, lately devised in their holy Convent. In the meane while, as Friar Reynard and Agnesia were entring into hir chamber, she leading her little son by the hand, and making fast the doore for their better safety: the Friar laide by his holie habit, Cowle, Hood, Booke, and Beads, to bee (in all respects) as other men were. No sooner were they thus entred the Chamber, but her husband Credulano, being come into the house, and unseen of any, staid not till he was at the Chamber doore, where hee knockt, and called for his Wife.
She hearing his voice: Alas Gossip (quoth she) what shall I do? My Husband knocketh at the doore, and now he will perceive the occasion of our so familiar acquaintance. Reynard being stript into his Trusse and straite Strouses, began to tremble and quake exceedingly. I heare your Husbands tongue Gossip, said he, and seeing no harme as yet hath bin done, if I had but my garments on againe; wee would have one excuse or other to serve the turne, but till then you may not open the doore. As womens wits are sildome gadding abroad, when any necessitie concerneth them at home: even so Agnesia, being sodainly provided of an invention, both how to speake and carry her selfe in this extreamitie, saide to the Friar. Get on your garments quickely, and when you are cloathed, take your little God-son in your armes, and listning wel what I shall say, shape your answeres according to my words, and then refer the matter to me. Credulano had scarsely ended his knocking, but Agnesia stepping to the doore said: Husband, I come to you. So she opened the doore, and (going forth to him) with a chearefull countenance thus spake. Beleeve me Husband, you could not have come in a more happy time, for our yong Son was sudainly extreamly sicke, and (as good Fortune would have it) our loving Gossip Reynard chanced to come in; and questionlesse, but by his good prayers and other religious paynes, we had utterly lost our childe, for he had no life left in him.
Credulano, being as credulous as his name imported, seemed ready to swoune with sodaine conceit: Alas good wife (quoth he) how hapned this? Sit downe sweet Husband said she, and I wil tell you al. Our child was sodainly taken with a swouning, wherein I being unskilful, did verily suppose him to be dead, not knowing what to doe, or say. By good hap, our Gossip Reynard came in, and taking the childe up in his armes, said to me. Gossip, this is nothing else but Wormes in the bellie of the childe, which ascending to the heart, must needs kill the child, without all question to the contrary. But be of good comfort Gossip, and feare not, for I can charme them in such sort, that they shall all die, and before I depart hence, you shall see your Son as healthfull as ever. And because the maner of this charm is of such nature, that it required prayer and exorcising in two places at once: Nurse went up with his Holye Brother into our Pigeon loft, to exercise their devotion there, while we did the like heere. For none but the mother of the childe must bee present at such a mystery, nor any enter to hinder the operation of the charme; which was the reason of making fast the Chamber doore. You shall see Husband anon the Childe, which is indifferently recovered in his armes, and if Nurse and his holy Brother were returned from theyr meditations; he saith, that the charme would then be fully effected: for the child beginneth to looke chearefull and merry.
So deerely did Credulano love the childe, that hee verily beleeved, what his Wife had saide, never misdoubting any other treachery: and, lifting up his eyes, with a vehement sigh, said. Wife, may not I goe in and take the child into my armes? Oh no, not yet good husband (quoth she) in any case, least you should overthrow all that is done. Stay but a little while, I will go in againe, and if all bee well, then will I call you. In went Agnesia againe, making the doore fast after her, the Fryar having heard all the passed speeches, by this time he was fitted with his habite, and taking the childe in his armes, he said to Agnesia. Gossip methought I heard your Husbands voice, is hee at your Chamber doore? Yes Gossip Reynard (quoth Credulano without, while Agnesia opened the doore, and admitted him entrance) indeede it is I. Come in Sir, I pray you, replyed the Friar, and heere receive your childe of mee, who was in great danger, of your ever seeing him any more alive. But you must take order, to make an Image of waxe, agreeing with the stature of the childe, to be placed on the Altar before the Image of S. Frances, by whose merites the childe is thus restored to health.
The childe, beholding his Father, made signes of comming to him, rejoycing merrily, as yong infants use to do, and Credulano clasping him in his armes, wept with conceite of joy, kissing him infinitely, and heartily thanking his Gossip Reynard, for the recovery of his God-son. The Friars brotherly Companion, who had given sufficient enstructions to the Nurse, and a small purse full of Sisters white thred, which a Nunne (after shrift) had bestowed on him, upon the husbands admittance into the Chamber (which they easily heard) came in also to them, and seeing all in very good tearmes, they holpe to make a joyfull conclusion, the Brother saying to Friar Reynard: Brother, I have finished all those foure jaculatory prayers, which you commanded me.
Brother, answered Reynard, you have a better breath then I, and your successe hath prooved happier then mine, for before the arrivall of my Gossip Credulano, I could accomplish but two jaculatory prayers onely. But it appeareth, that we have both prevailed in our devout desire, because the childe is perfectly cured. Credulano calling for Wine and good cheare, feasted both the Friars very jocondly, and then conducting them forth of his house, without any further intermission, caused the childs Image of waxe to be made, and sent it to be placed on the Altar of Saint Frances, among many other the like oblations.[Hide Third Novell]
So soone as the King perceyved, that the Novell reported by Madame Eliza was finished: hee turned himselfe to Madame Lauretta, and told her as his pleasure, that she should now begin the next, whereto she yeelded in this manner. O Love: What, and how many are thy prevailing forces? How straunge are thy foresights? And how admirable thine attempts? Where is, or ever was the Philosopher or Artist, that could enstruct the wiles, escapes, preventions, and demonstrations, which sodainly thou teachest such, as are thy apt and understanding Schollers indeede? Certaine it is, that the documents and eruditions of all other whatsoever, are weak, or of no worth, in respect of thine: as hath notably appeared, by the remonstrances already past, and whereto (worthy Ladies) I wil adde another of a simple woman, who taught her husband such a lesson, as shee never learned of any, but Love himselfe.
There dwelt sometime in Arezzo (which is a faire Village of Tuscany) a rich man, named Tofano, who enjoyed in marriage a young beautifull woman, called Cheta: of whom (without any occasion given, or reason knowne to himselfe) he became exceeding- jealous. Which his wife perceyving, she grew much offended thereat, and tooke it in great scorne, that she should be servile to so vile and slavish a condition. Oftentimes, she demanded of him, from whence this jealousie in him received originall, he having never seene or heard of any; he could make her no other answer, but who his owne bad humour suggested, and drove him every day (almost) to deaths doore, by feare of that which no way needed. But, whether as a just scourge for this his grosse folly, or a secret decree, ordained to him by Fortune and the Fates, I am not able to distinguish: It came so to passe, that a young Gallant made meanes to enjoy her favour, and she was so discreetly wise in judging of his worthinesse; that affection passed so farre mutually betweene them, as nothing wanted, but effects to answere words, suited with time and place convenient, for which order was taken as best they might, yet to stand free from all suspition.
Among many other evill conditions, very frequent and familiar in her husband Tofano; he tooke a great delight in drinking, which not only he held to be a commendable quality, but was alwaies so often solicited thereto: that Cheta her selfe began to like and allow it in him, feeding his humor so effectually, with quaffing and carowsing, that (at any time when she listed) she could make him bowsie beyonde all measure: and leaving him sleeping in this drunkennesse, would alwayes get her selfe to bed. By helpe heereof, she compassed the first familiarity with her friend, yea, divers times after, as occasion served: and so confidently did she builde on her husbands drunkennesse, that not onely shee adventured to bring her friend home into her owne house; but also would as often go to his, which was some-what neere at hand, and abide with him there, the most part of the night season. While Cheta thus continued on these amorous courses, it fortuned, that her slye suspitious husband, beganne to perceive, that though shee drunke very much with him, yea, untill he was quite spent and gone: yet she remained fresh and sober still, and therby imagined strange matters, that he being fast asleepe, his wife then tooke advantage of his drowsinesse, and mightand so forth. Beeing desirous to make experience of this his distrust, hee returned home at night (not having drunke any thing all the whole day) dissembling both by his words and behaviour, as if he were notoriously drunke indeede. Which his Wife constantly beleeving, saide to her selfe: That hee had now more neede of sleepe, then drinke; getting him immediately into his warme bed; and then going downe the staires againe, softly went out of doores unto her Friends house, as formerly she had used to do, and there shee remained untill midnight.
Tofano perceiving that his Wife came not to bed, and imagining to have heard his doore both open and shut: arose out of his bed, and calling his Wife Cheta divers times, without any answere returned: hee went downe the staires, and finding the doore but closed too, made it fast and sure on the inside, and then got him up to the window, to watch the returning home of his wife, from whence shee came, and then to make her conditions apparantly knowne. So long there he stayed, till at the last she returned indeede, and finding the doore so surely shut, shee was exceeding sorrowful, essaying how she might get it open by strength: which when Tofano had long suffered her in vaine to approove, thus hee spake to her. Cheta, all thy labour is meerely lost, because heere is no entrance allowed for thee; therefore return to the place from whence thou camest, that all thy friends may Judge of thy behaviour, and know what a night-walker thou art become.
The woman hearing this unpleasing language, began to use all humble entreaties, desiring him (for charities sake) to open the doore and admit her entrance, because she had not bin in any such place, as his jelous suspition might suggest to him: but onely to visit a weak and sickly neighbour, the nights being long, she not (as yet) capeable of sleepe, nor willing to sit alone in the house. But all her perswasions served to no purpose, he was so setled in his owne opinion, that all the Town should now see her nightly gading, which before was not so much as suspected. Cheta seeing, that faire meanes would not prevalle, shee entred into roughe speeches and threatnings, saying: If thou wilt not open the doore and let me come in, I will so shame thee, as never base man was. As how I pray thee? answered Tofano, what canst thou do to me?
The woman, whom love had inspired with sprightly counsell, ingeniously enstructing her what to do in this distresse, stearnly thus replyed. Before I will suffer any such shame as thou intendest towards mee, I will drowne my selfe heere in this Well before our doore, where being found dead, and thy villanous jealousie so apparantly knowne, beside thy more then beastly drunkennesse: all the neighbours will constantly beleeve, that thou didst first strangle me in the house, and afterwardes threw me into this Well. So either thou must flie upon the supposed offence, or lose all thy goodes by banishment, or (which is much more fitting for thee) have thy head smitten off, as a wilfull murtherer of thy wife; for all will Judge it to be no otherwise. All which wordes, mooved not Tofano a jot from his obstinat determination: but he still persisting therin, thus she spake. I neither can nor will longer endure this base Villanie of thine: to the mercy of heaven I commit my soul, and stand there my wheele, a witnesse against so hard-hearted a murtherer.
No sooner had she thus spoke, but the night being so extreamly dark, as they could not discerne one another; Cheta went to the Well, where finding a verie great stone, which lay loose upon the brim of the Well, even as if it had beene layde there on purpose, shee cried out aloud, saying. Forgive me faire heavens, and so threw the stone downe into the Well. The night being very still and silent, the fal of the great stone made such a dreadfull noise in the Well; that he hearing it at the Windowe, thought verily she had drowned her selfe indeede. Whereupon, running downe hastily, and taking a Bucket fastened to a strong Cord: he left the doore wide open, intending speedily to helpe her. But she standing close at the doores entrance, before he could get to the Wels side; she was within the house, softly made the doore fast on the inside, and then went up to the Window, where Tofano before had stood talking to her.
While he was thus dragging with his Bucket in the Well, crying and calling Cheta, take hold good Cheta, and save thy life: she stood laughing in the Window, saying. Water should bee put into Wine before a man drinkes it, and not when he hath drunke too much already. Tofano hearing his Wife thus to flout him out of his Window, went back to the doore, and finding it made fast against him: he willed hir to grant him entrance. But she, forgetting all gentle Language, which formerly she had used to him: in meere mockery and derision (yet intermixed with some sighes and teares, which women are saide to have at command) out aloud (because the Neighbours should heare her) thus she replyed.
Beastly drunken Knave as thou art, this night thou shalt not come within these doores, I am no longer able to endure thy base behaviour, it is more then high time, that thy course of life should bee publiquely known, and at what drunken houres thou returnest home to thy house. Tofano, being a man of very impatient Nature, was as bitter unto her in words on the other which the Neighbours about them (both men and Women) hearing; looked forth of their Windowes, and demaunding a reason for this their disquietnesse, Cheta (seeming as if she wept) sayde.
Alas my good Neighbours, you see at what unfitting houres, this bad man comes home to his house, after hee hath lyen in a Taverne all day drunke, sleeping and snorting like a Swine. You are my honest witnesses, how long I have suffered this beastlinesse in him, yet neyther your good counsell, nor my too often loving adrionitions, can worke that good which wee have expected. Wherefore, to try if shame can procure any amendment, I have shut him out of doores, until his drunken fit be over-past, and so he shall stand to coole his feet.
Tofano (but in very uncivill maner) told her being abroad that night, and how she had used him: But the Neighbours seeing her to be within the house, and beleeving her, rather then him, in regard of his too well knowne ill qualities; very sharpely reproved him, gave him grosse speeches, pittying that any honest Woman should be so continually abused. Now my good Neighbours (quoth she) you see what manner of man he is. What would you thinke of me, if I should walk the streets thus in the night time, or be so late out of mine owne house, as this dayly Drunkard is? I was affraid least you would have given credit to his dissembling speeches, when he told you, that I was at the Welles side, and threw something into the Well: but that I know your better opinion of me, and how sildome I am to be seene out of doores, although he would induce your sharper judgement of me, and lay that shame upon me, wherein he hath sinned himselfe.
The Neighbours, both men and Women, were all very severely incensed against Tofano, condemning him for his great fault that night committed, and avouching his wife to be vertuous and honest. Within a little while, the noise passing from Neighbour to Neighbour, at the length it came to the eares of her Kindred, who forthwith resorted thither, and hearing how sharpely the Neighbours reprehended Tofano: they tooke him, soundly bastanadoed him, and hardly left any bone of him unbruised. Afterward, they went into the house, tooke all such things thence as belonged to hir, taking hir also with them to their dwelling, and threatning Tofano with further infliction of punishment, both for his drunkennesse, and causlesse jealousie.
Tofano perceyving how curstly they had handled him, and what crooked meanes might further be used against him, in regard her Kindred and Friends were very mightie: thought it much better, patiently to suffer the wrong alreadie done him, then by obstinate contending to proceed further, and fare worse. He became a suter to her Kindred, that al might be forgotten and forgiven, in recompence whereof; he would not onely refraine from drunkennesse, but also, never more be jelous of his wife. This being faithfully promised, and Cheta reconciled to her Husband, all strife was ended, she enjoyed her friends favour, as occasion served, but yet with such discretion, as it was not noted. Thus the Coxcombe foole, was faine to purchase his peace, after a notorious wrong sustained, and further injuries to bee offered.[ Hide Fourth Novell ]
Madam Lauretta having ended her Novell, and every one commended the Woman, for fitting Tofano in his kinde; and, as his jealousie and drunkennesse justly deserved: the King (to prevent all losse of time) turned to Madame Fiammetta, commaunding her to follow next: whereuppon, very graciously, shee beganne in this manner.
Noble Ladies, the precedent Novell delivered by Madame Lauretta, maketh me willing to speake of another jealous man; as being halfe perswaded, that whatsoever is done to them by their Wives, and especially upon no occasion given, they doe no more then well becommeth them. And if those grave heads, which were the first instituters of lawes, had diligently observed all things; I am of the minde, that they would have ordained no other penalty for Women, then they appointed against such, as (in their owne defence) do offend any other. For jealous husbands, are meere insidiators of their Wives lives, and most diligent pursuers of their deaths, being lockt up in their houses all the Weeke long, imployed in nothing but domesticke drudging affayres: which makes them desirous of high Festivall dayes, to receive some litle comfort abroad, by an honest recreation or pastime, as Husbandmen in the fields, Artizans in our Citie, or Governours in our judiciall Courtes; yea, or as our Lord himselfe, who rested the seaventh day from all his travailes. In like manner, it is so willed and ordained by the Lawes, as well divine as humane, which have regard to the glory of God, and for the common good of every one; making distinction betweene those dayes appointed for labour, and the other determined for rest. Whereto jealous persons (in no case) will give consent, but all those dayes (which for other women are pleasing and delightfull) unto such, over whom they command, are most irksome, sadde and sorrowful, because then they are lockt up, and very strictly restrained. And if question wer urged, how many good women do live and consume away in this torturing het of affliction: I can make no other answere, but such as feele it, are best able to discover it. Wherefore to conclude the proheme to my present purpose, let none be over rash in condemning women: for what they do to their husbands, being jealous without occasion; but rather commend their wit and providence.
Somtime (faire Ladies) there lived in Arimino, a Merchant, very rich in wealth and worldly possessions, who having a beautifull Gentlewoman to his wife, he became extreamly jelous of her. And he had no other reason for this foolish conceit; but, like as he loved hir dearly, and found her to be very absolutely faire: even so he imagined, that althogh she devised by her best meanes to give him content; yet others would grow enamored of her, because she appeared so amiable to al. In which respect, time might tutor her to affect some other beside himselfe: the onely common argument of every bad minded man, being weake and shallow in his owne understanding. This jelous humor increasing in him more and more, he kept her in such narrow restraint: that many persons condemned to death, have enoyed larger libertie in their imprisonment. For, she might not bee present at Feasts, Weddings, nor goe to Church, or so much as to be seen at her doore: Nay, she durst not stand in her Window, nor looke out of her house, for any occasion whatsoever. By means whereof, life seemed most tedious and offensive to her, and she supported it the more impatiently, because shee knew her selfe not any way faulty.
Seeing her husband still persist in this shamefull course towards her; she studied, how she might best comfort her selfe in this desolate case: by devising some one meane or other (if any at all were to bee founde) wherby he might be requited in his kind, and wear that badge of shame whereof he was now but onely affraid. And because she could not gain so small a permission, as to be seene at any window, where (happily) she might have observed some one passing by in the street, discerning a litle parcell of her love: she remembred at length, that, in the next house to her Husbands (they both joyning close together) there dwelt a comely yong proper Gentleman, whose perfections carried correspondencie with her desires. She also considered with her selfe, that if there were any partition wall; such a chinke or cranny might easily be made therein, by which (at one time or other) she should gaine a sight of the young Gentleman, and finde an houre so fitting, as to conferre with him, and bestow her lovely favour on him, if he pleased to accept it. If successe (in this case) proved answerable to her hope, then thus she resolved to outrun the rest of her wearisome dayes, except the frensie of jealousie did finish her husbands loathed life before.
Walking from one roome to another, thorough every part of the house; and no wall escaping without diligent surveying; on a day, when her Husband was absent from home, she espyed in a corner very secret, an indifferent cleft in the Wall; which though it yeelded no full view on the other side, yet she plainly perceived it to be an handsome Chamber, and grew more then halfe perswaded, that either it might be the Chamber of Philippo (for so was the neighbouring yong Gentleman named) or else a passage guiding thereto. A Chambermaid of hers, who compassioned her case very much; made such observance, by her Mistresses direction, that she found it to be Philippoes bed Chamber, and where alwayes he used to lodge alone. By often visiting this rift or chinke in the Wall, especially when the Gentleman was there; and by throwing in little stones, flowers, and such like things, which fell still in his way as he walked: so farre she prevailed, that he stepping to the chinke, to know from whence they came; shee called softly to him, who knowing her voyce, there they had such private conference together, as was not any way displeasing to either. So that the chinke being made a little larger; yet so, as it could not be easily discerned: their mouthes might meete with kisses together, and their hands folded each in other; but nothing else to be performed, for continuall feare of her jelous husband.
Now the Feast of Christmasse drawing neere, the Gentlewoman said to her Husband; that, if it stood with his liking: she would do such duty as fitted with so solemne a time, by going earely in a morning unto Church, there to be confessed, and receive her Saviour, as other Christians did. How now? replied the jealous Asse, what sinnes have you committed, that should neede confession? How Husband? quoth she, what do you thinke me to be a Saint? Who knoweth not, I pray you, that I am as subject to sinne, as any other Woman living in the world? But my sins are not to be revealed to you, because you are no Priest. These words enflamed his jealousie more violently then before, and needes must he know what sinnes she had committed, and having resolved what to do in this case, made her answer: That hee was contented with her motion, alwaies provided, that she went to no other Church, then unto their owne Chappel, betimes in a morning; and their own Chaplaine to confesse her, or some other Priest by him appointed, but not any other: and then she to returne home presently againe. She being a woman of acute apprehension, presently collected his whole intention: but seeming to take no knowledge thereof, replyed, that she would not swerve from his direction.
When the appointed day was come, she arose very earely, and being prepared answerable to her owne liking, to the Chappell shee went as her Husband had appointed, where her jealous Husband (being much earlier risen then she) attended for her comming: having so ordred the matter with his Chaplaine, that he was cloathed in his Cowle, with a large Hood hanging over his eyes, that she should not know him, and so he went and sate downe in the Confessors place. Shee being entred into the Chappell, and calling for the Priest to heare her confession, he made her answer: that he could not intend it, but would bring her to another holy Brother, who was at better leysure then hee. So to her Husband he brought her, that seemed (in all respects) like the Confessor himselfe: save onely his Hood was not so closely veyled, but shee knew his beard, and said to her selfe. What a mad world is this when jealousie can metamorphose an ordinary man into a Priest? But, let me alone with him, I meane to fit him with that which he lookes for.
So, appearing to have no knowledge at all of him, downe she fell at his feete, and he had conveyed a few Cherry stones into his mouth, to trouble his speech from her knowledge; for, in all things els, he thoght himselfe to be sufficiently fitted for her. In the course of her confession, she declared, that she was married to a most wicked jealous Husband, and with whom she lead a very hatefull life. Neverthelesse (quoth she) I am indifferently even with him, for I am beloved of an Holie Fryar, that every night commeth and lyeth with me. When the jealous Husband heard this, it stabbed him like a dagger to the heart, and, but for his greedy covetous desire to know more; he would faine have broke off confession, and got him gone. But, perceiving that it was his wisest course, he questioned further with his wife, saying: Why good Woman, doth not your husband lodge with you? Yes Sir, quoth she. How is it possible then (replyed the Husband) that the Friar can lodge there with you too?
She, dissembling a farre fetcht sigh, thus answered. Reverend Sir, I know not what skilfull Art the Fryar useth, but this I am sure, every doore in our house will flye open to him, so soone as he doth but touch it. Moreover, he told me, that when he commeth unto my Chamber doore, he speaketh certaine words to himselfe, which immediately casteth my Husband into a dead sleepe, and, understanding him to bee thus sleepily entranced: he openeth the doore, entreth in, lieth downe by me, and this every night he faileth not to do. The jealous Coxcomb angerly scratching his head, and wishing his wife halfe hangd, said: Mistresse, this is very badly done, for you should keepe your selfe from all men, but your husband onely. That shall I never doe, answered shee, because (indeed) I love him dearely. Why then (quoth our supposed Confessor) I cannot give you any absolution. I am the more sory Sir, said she, I came not hither to tell you any leasings, for if I could, yet I would not, because it is not good to fable with such Saint-like men as you are. You do therein (quoth hee) the better, and surely I am very sory for you, because in this dangerous condition, it will bee the utter losse of your soule: neverthelesse, both for your husbands sake and your owne, I will take some paines, and use such especiall prayers in your name, which may (perchance) greatly avayle you. And I purpose now and then, to send you a Novice or young Clearke of mine, whom you may safely acquaint with your minde, and signifie to me, by him, whether they have done you good, or no: and if they prove helpefull, then will we further proceed therein. Alas Sir, said she, never trouble your selfe, in sending any body to our house; because, if my Husband should know it, he is so extreamly jealous, as all the world cannot otherwise perswade him, but that he commeth thither for no honest intent, and so I shall live worse then now I do. Fear not that, good woman, quoth he, but beleeve it certainly, that I will have such a care in this case, as your Husband shall never speake thereof to you. If you can doe so Sir, sayde she, proceed I pray you, and I am well contented.
Confession being thus ended, and she receiving such pennance as hee appointed, she arose on her feete, and went to heare Masse; while our jealous Woodcocke (testily puffing and blowing) put off his Religious habite, returning home presently to his house, beating his braines al the way as he went, what meanes he might best devise, for the taking of his wife and the Friar together, whereby to have them both severely punished. His wife being come home from the Chappell, discerned by her Husbands lookes, that he was like to keepe but a sory Christmasse: yet he used his utmost industry, to conceale what he had done, and which she knew as well as himself. And he having fully resolved, to watch his own street doore the next night ensuing in person, in expectation of the Friars comming, saide to his Wife. I have occasion both to suppe and lodge out of my house this night, wherefore see you the streete doore to be surely made fast on the inside, and the doore at the middest of the staires, as also your own Chamber doore, and then (in Gods name) get you to bed. Whereto she answered, that all should be done as hee had appointed.
Afterward, when she saw convenient time, she went to the chink in the Wall, and making such a signe as shee was woont to doe: Phillippo came thither, to whom she declared all her mornings affayres, and what directions her husband had given her. Furthermore she saide, certaine I am, that he will not depart from the house, but sit and watch the doore without, to take one that comes not heere. If therefore, you can climbe over the house top, and get in at our gutter Window, you and I may conferre more familiarly together. The young Gentleman being no dullard, had his lesson quickly taught him; and when night was come, Geloso (for so must wee tearme the Cocke-braind husband) armes himselfe at all points, with a browne Bill in his hand, and so he sits to watch his owne doore. His Wife had made fast all the doores, especially that on the midst of the stayres, because he should not (by any means) come to her Chamber; and so, when the houre served, the Gentleman adventured over the house top, found the gutter Window, and the way conducting him to her Chamber, where I leave them to their further amorous conference.
Geloso, more than halfe mad with anger, first, because hee had lost his supper: next, having sitten almost all the night (which was extreamely cold and windle) his Armor much mollesting him, and yet he could see no Friar come: when day drew neere, and hee ashamed to watch there any longer; conveighed himselfe to some more convenient place, where putting off his Armes, and seeming to come from the place of his Lodging; about the ninth houre, he found his doore open, entred in, and went up the stayres, going to dinner with his Wife. Within a while after, according as Geloso had ordred the businesse, a youth came thither, seeming to be the Novice sent from the Confessor, and he being admitted to speake with her, demanded, whether shee were troubled or mollested that night passed, as formerly she had bin, and whether the partie came or no? The Woman, who knew well enough the Messenger (notwithstanding all his formall disguise) made answer: That the party expected, came not: but if hee had come, it was to no purpose; because her minde was now otherwise altred, albeit she changed not a jote from her amorous conclusion.
What should I now further say unto you? Geloso continued his watch many nights afterward, as hoping to surprize the Friar at his entrance, and his wife kept still her contented quarter, according as opportunitie served. In the conclusion, Geloso beeing no longer able to endire his bootlesse watching, nor some (more then ordinary) pleasing countenance in his wife: one day demaunded of her (with a very stearne and frowning brow) what secret sinnes shee had revealed to the ghostly Father, upon the day of her shrift? The Woman replyed, that she would not tell him, neyther was it a matter reasonable, or lawfull for her to doe. Wicked Woman, answered Geloso: I knowe them all well enough, even in despight of thee, and every word that thou spakest unto him. But Huswife, now I must further know, what the Fryar is, with whom you are so farre in love, and (by meanes of his enchantments) lyeth with you every night; tell me what and who he is, or else I meane to cut your throate.
The Woman immediately made answer, it was not true, that she was in love with any Fryar. How? quoth Geloso, didst not thou confesse so much to the Ghostly Father, the other day when thou wast at shrift? No Sir, sayde she, but if I did, I am sure he would not disclose it to you, except hee suffered you to bee there present, which is an Article beyonde his dutie. But if it were so, then I confesse freely, that I did say so unto him. Make an end then quickely Wife (quoth Geloso) and tell mee who the Friar is. The Woman fell into a hearty laughter, saying. It liketh me singularly well, when a wise man will suffer himselfe to be ledde by a simple Woman, even as a Sheepe is to the slaughter, and by the hornes. If once thou wast wise, that wisedome became utterly lost, when thou felst into that divellish frensie of jealousie, without knowing anie reason for it: for, by this beastlike and no manly humor, thou hast eclipsed no meane part of my glory, and womanly reputation.
Doest thou imagine Husband, that if I were so blinded in the eyes of my head, as thou art in them which should informe thine understanding; I could have found out the Priest, that would needs bee my Confessor? I knew thee Husband to be the man, and therefore I prepared my wit accordingly, to fit thee with the foolish imagination which thou soughtest for, and (indeed) gave it thee. For, if thou hadst beene wise, as thou makest the world to beleeve by outward apparance, thou wouldest never have expressed such a basenesse of minde, to borrow the coulour of a sanctified cloake, thereby to undermine the secrets of thine honest meaning Wife. Wherefore, to feede thee in thy fond suspition, I was the more free in my Confession, and tolde thee truely, with whom, and how heinously I had transgressed. Did I not tell thee, that I loved a Fryar? And art not thou he whom love, being a Fryar, and my ghostly Father, though (to thine owne shame) thou madst thy selfe so? I said moreover, that there is not any doore in our house, that can keepe it selfe shut against him, but (when he pleaseth) he comes and lies with me. Now tell me Husband, What doore in our house hath (at any time) bin shut against thee, but they are freely thine owne, and grant thee entrance? Thou art the same Friar that confest me, and lieth every night with me, and so often as thou sentst thy yong Novice or Clearke to me, as often did I truly returne thee word, when the same Fryar lay with me. But (by jealousie) thou hast so lost thine understanding, that thou wilt hardly beleeve all this.
Alas good man, like an armed Watchman, thou satst at thine owne doore all a cold Winters night, perswading mee (poorelly credulous woman) that, upon urgent occasions, thou must needs suppe and lodge from home. Remember thy selfe therefore better heereafter, become a true understanding man, as thou shouldst bee, and make not thy selfe a mocking stocke to them, who knoweth thy jealous qualities, as well as I do, and be not so watchfull over me, as thou art. For I sweare by my true honesty, that if I were but as willing, as thou art suspitious: I could deceive thee, if thou hadst an hundred eyes, as Nature affords thee but two, and have my pleasures freely, yet thou be not a jot the wiser, or my credit any way impaired.
Our wonderfull wise Geloso, who (very advisedly) considred that he had wholly heard his wives secret confession, and dreamed now on no other doubt beside, but (perceiving by her speeches) how hee was become a scorne to al men: without returning other answer, confirmed his wife to be both wise and honest, and now when he hadde just occasion to be jealous indeede, hee utterly forsware it, and counted them all Coxcombes that would be so misguided. Wherefore, she having thus wisely wonne the way to her owne desires, and he reduced into a more humane temper: I hope there was no more neede, of clambring over houses in the night time like Cats, nor walking in at gutter Windowes; but all abuses were honestly reformed.[ Hide Fift Novell ]
Wondrously pleasing to all the company, was the reported Novell of Madame Fiammetta, every one applauding the Womans wisedome, and that she had done no more, then as the jealous foole her husband justly deserved. But shee having ended, the King gave order unto Madame Pampinea, that now it was her turne to speake, whereupon, thus she began. There are no meane store of people who say (though very false and foolishly,) that Love maketh many to be out of their wits, and that such as fall in Love, do utterly loose their understanding. To mee this appeareth a very ydle opinion, as already hath beene approved by the related discourses, and shall also bee made manifest by another of mine owne.
In our City of Florence, famous for some good, though as many bad qualities, there dwelt (not long since) a Gentlewoman, endued with choice beauty and admirable perfections, being wife to Signior Beltramo, a very valiant Knight, and a man of great possessions. As oftentimes it commeth to passe, that a man cannot alwayes feede on one kind of bread, but his appetite will be longing after change: so fared it with this Lady, named Isabella, she being not satisfied with the delights of her Husband; grew enamoured of a young Gentleman, called Lionello, compleate of person and commendable qualities, albeit not of the fairest fortunes, yet his affection every way sutable to hers. And full well you know (faire Ladies) that where the mindes irreciprocally accorded, no dilligence wanteth for the desires execution: so this amorous couple, made many solemne protestations, untill they should bee friended by opportunity.
It fortuned in the time of their hopefull expectation a Knight, named Signior Lambertuccio, fell likewise in love with Isabella: but because he was somewhat unsightly of person, and utterly unpleasing in the eye, she grew regardlesse of his frequent solicitings, and would not accept either tokens, or letters. Which when hee saw, (being very rich and of great power) hee sought to compasse his intent by a contrary course, threatning her with scandall and disgrace to her reputation, and with his associates to bandie against her best friends. She knowing what manner of man he was, and how able to abuse any with infamous imputations, wisely returned him hopefull promises, though never meaning to performe any, but onely (Lady-like) to flatter and foole him therewith.
Some few miles distant from Florence, Beltramo had a Castle of pleasure, and there his Lady Isabella used to live all Summer, as all other doe the like, being so possessed. On a day, Beltramo being ridden from home, and she having sent for Lionello, to take the advantage of her Husbands absence; accordingly he went, not doubting but to winne what he had long expected. Signior Lambertuccio on the other side, meeting Beltramo riding from his Castle, and Isabella now fit to enjoy his company: gallops thither with all possible speede, because hee would bee no longer delayed. Scarcely was Lionello entred the Castle, and receiving directions by the waiting woman, to her Ladies Chamber: but Lambertuccio gallopped in at the Gate, which the woman perceiving, ranne presently and acquainted her Lady with the comming of Lambertuccio.
Now was shee the onely sorrowfull woman of the world; for nothing was now to bee feared, but stormes and tempests, because Lambertuccio, spake no other then Lightning and Thunder, and Lionello, (being no lesse affraide then shee) by her perswasion crept behind the bed, where he hid himselfe very contentedly. By this time Lambertuccio was dismounted from his Courser, which he fastened (by the bridle) to a ring in the wall, and then the waiting woman came to him, to guide him to her Lady and Mistresse: who stood ready at the staires head, graced him with a very acceptable welcome, yet marvelling much at his so sodaine comming. Lady (quoth he) I met your Husband upon the way, which granting mine accesse to see you; I come to claime your long delayed promise, the time being now so favourable for it.
Before he had uttered halfe these words, Beltramo, having forgot an especiall evidence in his Study, which was the onely occasion of his journey, came gallopping backe againe into the Castell Court, and seeing such a goodly Gelding stand fastened there, could not redily imagine who was the owner thereof. The waiting woman, upon the sight of her Masters entring into the Court, came to her Lady, saying: My Master Beltramo is returned back?, newly alighted, and (questionlesse) comming up the staires. Now was our Lady Isabella, ten times worse affrighted then before, (having two severall amourous suters in her house, both hoping, neither speeding, yet her credite lying at the stake for either) by this unexpected returne of her Husband. Moreover, there was no possible meanes, for the concealing of Signior Lambertuccio, because his Gelding stood in the open Court, and therefore made a shrewde presumption against her, upon the least doubtfull question urged.
Neverthelesse, as womens wits are alwayes best upon sudden constraints, looking forth of her window, and espying her Husband preparing to come up: she threw her selfe on her day Couch, speaking thus (earnestly) to Lambertuccio. Sir, if ever you loved mee, and would have me faithfully to beleeve it, by the instant safety both of your owne honour, and my life, doe but as I advise you. Forth draw your Sword, and, with a stearne countenance, threatning death and destruction: run downe the staires, and when you are beneath, say. I sweare by my best fortunes, although I misse of thee now heere, yet I will be sure to finde thee some where else. And if my Husband offer to stay you, or moove any question to you: make no other answere, but what you formerly spake in fury. Beside, so soone as you are mounted on horsebacke, have no further conference with him, upon any occasion whatsoever; to prevent all suspition in him, of our future intendments.
Lambertuccio sware many terrible oathes, to observe her directions in every part, and having drawne forth his Sword, grasping it naked in his hand, and setting worse lookes on the businesse, then ever nature gave him, because he had spent so much labour in vaine; he failed not in a jot of the Ladies injunction. Beltramo having commanded his horse to safe custody, and meeting Lambertuccio discending downe the staires, so armed, swearing, and most extreamely storming, wondring extraordinarily at his threatning words, made offer to imbrace him., and understand the reason of his distemper. Lambertuccio repulsing him rudely, and setting foote in the stirrup, mounted on his Gelding, and spake nothing else but this. I sweare by the fairest of all my fortunes, although I misse of thee heere: yet I will be sure to find thee some where else, and so he gallopped mainely away.
When Beltramo was come up into his wives Chamber, hee found her cast downe upon her Couch, weeping, full of feare, and greatly discomforted; wherefore he said unto her, What is hee that Signior Lambertuccio is so extreamely offended withall, and threatneth in such implacable manner? The Lady arising from her Couch, and going neere to the Bed, because Lionello might the better heare her; returned her Husband this answere. Husband (quoth she) never was I so dreadfully affrighted till now; for, a young Gentleman, of whence, or what he is, I know not, came running into our Castle for rescue, being pursued by Signior Lambertuccio, a weapon ready drawne in his hand. Ascending up our stayres, by what fortune, I know not, he found my Chamber doore standing open, finding me also working on my Sampler, and in wonderfull feare and trembling.
Good Madame (quoth hee) for Gods sake helpe to save my life, or else I shall be slaine heere in your Chamber. Hearing his pittious cry, and compassionating his desperate case; I arose from my worke, and in my demaunding of whence, and what he was, that durst presume so boldly into my bed-chamber: presently came up Signior Lambertuccio also, in the same uncivill sorte, as before I tolde you, swaggering and swearing; where is this traiterous villaine? Heereupon, I stept (somewhat stoutly) to my Chamber doore, and as hee offered to enter, with a womans courage I resisted him, which made him so much enraged against mee, that when hee saw mee to debarre his entrance; after many terrible and vile oathes and vowes, hee ranne downe the stayres againe, in such like manner as you chaunced to meete him.
Now trust mee deare wife (said Beltramo) you behaved your selfe very well and worthily: for, it would have beene a most notorious scandall to us, if a man should bee slaine in your bed-chamber: and Signior Lambertuccio carryed himselfe most dishonestly, to pursue any man so outragiously, having taken my Castle as his Sanctuary. But alas wife, what is become of the poore affrighted Gentleman? Introth Sir (quoth she) I know not, but (somewhere or other) heereabout hee is hidden. Where art you honest friend" said plaine meaning Beltramo; Come forth and feare not, for thine enemy is gone.
Lionello, who had heard all the forepassed discourse, which shee had delivered to her Husband Beltramo, came creeping forth amazedly (as one now very fearefully affrighted indeede) from under the further side of the bedde, and Beltramo saide to him, What a quarrell was this, between thee and furious Lambertuccio? Not any at all Sir, replyed Lionello, to my knowledge, which verily perswadeth me; that either he is not well in his wits, or else he mistaketh me for some other; because, so soone as he saw me on the way, somewhat neere to this your Castle, he drew forth hi Sword, and swearing an horrible oath, said. Traitor thou art a dead man. Upon these rough words, I stayed not to question the occasion of mine offending him: but fied from him so fast as possibly I could; but confesse my selfe (indeede) over-bold, by presuming into your Ladies bed chamber, which yet (equalled with her mercie) hath bin the onely meanes at this time, of saving my life She hath done like a good Lady, answered Beltramo, and I do verie much commend her for it. But, recollect thy dismayed spirits together, for I will see thee safely secured lience, afterward, looke to thy selfe so well as thou canst. Dinner being immediately made ready, and they having merrily feasted together: he bestowed a good Gelding on Lionello, and rode along with him to Florence, where he left him quietly in his owne lodging. The selfe-same Evening (according as Isabella had given enstruction) Lionello conferred with Lambertuccio: and such an agreement passed betweene them, that though some rough speeches were noised abroad, to set the better colour on the businesse; yet al matters were so cleanly carried, that Beltramo never knew this queint deceitfull policy of his Wife.[ Hide Sixt Novell ]
This so sodaine dexterity of wit in Isabella, related in verie modest manner by Madame Pampinea, was not onely admired by all the company; but likewise passed with as generall approbation. But yet Madam Philomena (whom the King had commanded next to succeede) peremptorily sayde. Worthy Ladies, if I am not deceived; I intend to tell you another Tale presently; as much to be commended as the last.
You are to understand then, that it is no long while since, when there dwelt in Paris a Florentine Gentleman, who falling into decay of his estate, by over-bountifull expences; undertooke the degree of a Merchant, and thrived so well by his trading, that he grew to great wealth, having one onely sonne by his wife, named Lodovico. This Sonne, partaking somewhat in his Fathers former height of minde, and no way inclineable to deale in Merchandize, had no meaning to be a Shopman, and therefore accompanied the Gentlemen of France, in sundry services for the King; among whom, by his singular good carriage and qualites, he happened to be not meanly esteemed. While thus he continued in the Court, it chanced, that certaine Knights, returning from Jerusalem, having there visited the holy Sepulcher, and comming into company where Lodovico was: much familiar discourse passed amongst them, concerning the faire women of France, England, and other parts of the world where they had bin, and what delicate beauties they had seene.
One in the company constantly avouched, that of all the Women by them so generally observed, there was not any comparable to the Wife of Egano de Galluzzi, dwelling in Bologna, and her name Madam Beatrix, reputed to be the onely faire woman of the world. Many of the rest maintained as much, having bin at Bologna, and likewise seene her. Lodovico hearing the woman to be so highly commended, and never (as yet) feeling any thought of amorous inclination; became sodainely toucht with an earnest desire of seeing her, and his minde could entertaine no other matter, but onely of travailing thither to see her, yea, and to continue there, if occasion so served. The reason for his journey urged to his Father, was to visit Jerusalem, and the holy Sepulcher, which with much difficulty, at length he obtained his leave.
Being on his journey towards Bologna, by the name of Anichino, and not of Lodovico, and being there arrived; upon the day following, and having understood the place of her abiding: it was his good happe, to see the Lady at her Window; she appearing in his eye farre more faire, then all reports had made her to be. Heereupon, his affection became so enflamed to her, as he vowed, never to depart from Bologna, untill he had obtained her love. And devising by what meanes he might effect his hopes, he grew perswaded (setting all other attempts aside) that if he could be entertained into her Husbands service, and undergo some businesse in the house, time might tutor him to obtaine his desire. Having given his attendants sufficient allowance, to spare his company, and take no knowledge of him, selling his Horses also, and other notices which might discover him: he grew into acquaintance with the Hoste of the house where he lay, revealing an earnest desire in himselfe, to serve som Lord or worthy Gentleman, if any were willing to give him entertainment.
Now beleeve me Sir (answered the Hoste) you seeme worthy to have a good service indeede, and I know a Noble Gentleman of this Cittie, who is named Egano: he will (without all question) accept your offer, for hee keepeth many men of verie good deserving, and you shall have my furtherance therein so much as may be. As he promised, so he performed, and taking Anichino with him unto Egano: so farre he prevailed by his friendly protestations, and good opinion of the young Gentleman; that Anichino was (without more ado) accepted in Eganoes service, then which, nothing could be more pleasing to him. Now had he the benefit of dayly beholding his hearts Mistresse, and so acceptable proved his service to Egano, that he grew very farre in love with him: not undertaking any affayres whatsoever, without the advice and direction of Anichino, so that he reposed his most especiall trust in him, as a man altogether governed by him.
It fortuned upon a day, that Egano being ridden to flye his Hawke at the River, and Anichino remaining behinde at home, Madame Beatrix, who (as yet) had taken no notice of Anichinoes love to her (albeit her selfe, observing his faire carriage and commendable qualities, was highly pleased to have so seeming a servant) called him to play at the Chesse with her: and Anichino, coveting nothing more then to content her, carried himselfe so dexteriously in the game, that he permitted hir still to win, which was no little joy to her. When all the Gentlewomen, and other friends there present, as spectators to behold their play, had taken their farewell, and were departed, leaving them all alone, yet gaming still: Anichino breathing forth an intire sigh, Madame Beatrix looking merrily on him, said. Tell me Anichino, art not thou angrie, to see me win? It should appeare so by that solemne sigh. No truly Madame, answered Anichino, a matter of farre greater moment, then losse of infinite games at the Chesse, was the occasion why I sighed. I pray thee (replyed the Lady) by the love thou bearest me, as being my Servant (if any love at all remain in thee towards me) give me a reason for that harty sigh.
When he heard himselfe so severely conjured, by the love he bare to her, and loved none else in the world beside: he gave a farre more hart-sicke sigh, then before. Then his Lady and Mistresse entreated him seriously, to let her know the cause of those two deepe sighes: whereto Anichino thus replyed. Madam, if I should tell you, I stand greatly in feare of offending you: and when I have told you, I doubt your discovery thereof to some other. Beleeve me Anichino (quoth she) therein thou neither canst, or shalt offend me. Moreover, assure thy selfe, that I will never disclose it to any other, except I may do it with thy consent. Madame (saide hee) seeing you have protested such a solemne promise to mee, I will reveale no meane secret unto you.
So, with teares standing in his eyes, he told her what he was; where he heard the first report of her singular perfections, and instantly becam enamored of her, as the maine motive of his entring into her service. Then, most humbly he entreated her, that if it might agree with her good liking, she would be pleased to commisserate his case, and grace him with her private favours. Or, if shee might not be so mercifull to him; that yet she would vouchsafe, to let him live in the lowly condition as he did, and thinke it a thankefull duty in him, onely to love her. O singular sweetnesse, naturally living in faire feminine blood! How justly art thou worthy of praise in the like occasions? Thou couldst never be wonne by sighes and teares; but hearty imprecations have alwayes prevailed with thee, making thee apt and easie to amorous desires. If I had praises answerable to thy great and glorious deservings, my voice should never faint, nor my pen waxe weary, in the due and obsequious performance of them.
Madam Beatrix, well observing Anichino when he spake, and giving credit to his so solemne protestations; they were so powerfull in prevailing with her, that her senses (in the same manner) were enchanted; and sighes flew as violently from her, as before he had vented them: which stormy tempest being a little over-blowne, thus she spake. Anichino, my hearts deere affected Friend, live in hope, for I tell thee truly, never could gifts, promises, nor any Courtings used to me by Lords, Knights, Gentlemen, or other (although I have bin solicited by many) winne the lest grace or favour at my hand, no, nor move me to any affection. But thou, in a minute of time (compared with their long and tedious suing) hast expressed such a soveraigne potency in thy sweet words, that thou hast made me more thine, then mine owne: and beleeve it unfeinedly, I hold thee to be worthy of my love. Wherefore, with this kisse I freely give it thee, and make thee a further promise, that before this night shall be fully past, thou shalt in better manner perceive it. Adventure into my Chamber about the houre of midnight, I will leave the doore open: thou knowest on which side of the bed I use to rest, come thither and feare not: if I sleep, the least gentle touch of thy hand will wake me, and then thou shalt see how much I love thee. So, with a kinde kisse or two, the bargaine was concluded, she licensing his departure for that rime, and he staying in hope of his hearts happinesse, till when, he thought every houre a yeare.
In the meane while; Egano returned home from Hawking, and so soone as he had supt (being very weary) he went to bed, and his Ladie likewise with him, leaving her Chamber doore open, according as she had promised. At the houre appointed, Anichino came, finding the doore but easily put too, which (being entred) softly he closed againe, in the same manner as he found it. Going to the beds side where the Lady lay, and gently touching her brest with his hand, he found her to be awake, and perceiving he was come according unto promise, shee caught his hand fast with hers, and held him very strongly. Then, turning (as she could) towards Egano, she made such meanes, as hee awaked, whereupon she spake unto him as followeth.
Sir, yesternight I would have had a fewe speeches with you: but, in regard of your wearinesse and early going to bed, I could not have any opportunity. Now, this time and place being most convenient, I desire to bee resolved by you: Among all the men retained into your service; which of them do you thinke to be the best, most loyall, and worthiest to enjoy your love? Egano answered thus: Wife, why should you move such a question to me? Do not you know, that I never had any servant heeretofore, or ever shall have heereafter, in whom I reposed the like trust as I have done, and do in Anichino? But to what end is this motion of yours? I will tell you Sir (quoth she) and then be Judge your self, whether I have reason to move this question, or no. Mine opinion every way equalled yours, concerning Anichino, and that he was more just and faithfull to you, then any could be amongest all the rest: But Husband, like as where the water runneth stillest, the Foord is deepest, even so, his smooth lookes have beguiled both you and me. For, no longer agoe, then this verie day, no sooner were you ridden foorth on Hauking, but he (belike purposely) tarrying at home, watching such a leysure as best fitted his intent: was not ashamed to solicite mee, both to abuse your bed, and mine owne spotlesse honor.
Moreover, he prosecuted his impious purpose with such alluring perswasions: that being a weake woman, and not willing to endure over many Amorous proofes (onely to acquaint you with his most sawcie immodestie, and to revenge your selfe uppon him as best you may; your selfe beeing best able to pronounce him guiltie) I made him promise, to meete him in our Garden, presently after midde-night, and to finde mee sitting under the Pine-Tree; never meaning (as I am vertuous) to be there. But, that you may know the deceite and falshoode of your Servant, I would have you to put on my Night-gowne, my head Attire, and Chinne-cloath, and sitting but a short while there underneath the Pine-Tree: such is his insatiate desire, as he will not faile to come, and then you may proceede, as you finde occasion.
When Egano heard these Words, sodainely hee started out of Bed, saying. Doe I foster such a Snake in mine owne bosome? Gramercie Wife for this politicke promise of thine, and beleeve mee, I meane to follow it effectually. So, on he put his Ladies Night-gown, her formall head Attire and Chin-cloth, going presently downe into the Garden, to expect Anichinoes comming to the Pine-Tree. But before the matter grew to this issue, let me demand of you faire Ladies, in what a lamentable condition (as you may imagine) was poore Anichino; to bee so strongly detained by her, heare all his amorous suite discovered, and likely to draw very heavy afflictions on him? Undoubtedly, he looked for immediate apprehension by Egano, imprisonment and publike punishment for his so malapert presumption: and had it proved so, she had much renowned her selfe, and dealt with him but as he had justlie deserved.
But frailtie in our feminine sex is too much prevalent, and makes us wander from vertuous courses, when we are wel onward in the way to them. Madam Beatrix, whatsoever passed betweene her and Anichino, I know not, but, either to continue this new begunne league for further time, or, to be revenged on her husbands implicity, in over-rashlie giving credit to so smooth a ly; this was her advise to him. Anichino, quoth she, Take a good Cudgell in thy hand, then go into the Garden so farre as the Pine; and there, as if formerly thou hadst solicited mee unto this secret meeting, only but by way of approving my honestie: in my name, revile thy master so bitterly as thou canst, bestowing manie sound blowes on him with thy cudgel; yet urge the shame stil (as it were) to mee, and never leave him, til thou hast beaten him out of the garden, to teach him keepe his bed another time Such an apt Scholler as Anichino was in this kind, needs no tutoring, but a word is enough to a ready Wit. To the Garden goes he, with a good willow cudgell in his hand, and comming neere to the Pine-tree, there he found Egano disguised like to his Lady, who arising from the place where he sate, went with chearefull gesture to welcome him; but Anichino (in rough and stearne manner) thus spake unto him. Wicked shamelesse, and most immodest Woman, Art thou come, according to thine unchaste and lascivious promise? Couldest thou so easily credite, (though I tempted thee, to trie the vertue of thy continencie) I would offer such a damnable wrong to my worthy Master, that so deerely loves me, and reposeth his especiall confidence in me? Thou art much deceived in me, and shalt finde, that I hate to be false to him.
So lifting up the Cudgell, he gave him therewith halfe a score good bastinadoes, laying them on soundly, both on his armes and shoulders: and Egano feeling the smart of them, durst not speake one Worde, but fled away from him so fast as hee could, Anichino still following, and multiplying many other injurious speeches against him, with the Epithites of Strumpet, lustfull and insatiate Woman. Go thou lewde beast (quoth he) most unworthy the title of a Lady, or to be Wife unto so good a natured man, as my Mayster is, to whom I will reveale thy most ungracious incivility to Morrow, that he may punish thee a little better then I have done.
Egano being thus well beaten for his Garden walke, got within the doore, and so went up to his Chamber againe: his Lady there demanding of him, whether Anichino came according to his promise, or no? Come?
quoth Egano, Yes Wife, he came, but deerely to my cost: for hee verily taking me for thee, hath beaten me most extreamly, calling me an hundred Whores and Strumpets, reputing thee to bee the wickedst Woman living. In good sadnesse Beatrix, I wondred not a little at him, that he would give thee any such vile speeches, with intent to wrong mee in mine honour. Questionlesse, because hee saw thee to be joviall spirited, gracious and affable towardes all men; therefore hee intended to make triall of thine honest carriage. Well Sir (sayde shee) twas happy that hee tempted mee with words, and let you taste the proofe of them by deeds: and let him thinke, that I brooke those words as distastably, as you do or can, his ill deeds. But seeing he is so just, faithfull, and loyall to you, you may love him the better, and respect him as you finde occasion.
Whereto Egano thus replyed. Now trust me thou hast said very well: And me wi drawing hence the argument of his setled perswasion; that he had the chastest Woman living to his wife, and so just a Servant, as could not be fellowed: there never was any further discoverie of this Garden-night accident. Perhaps, Madame Beatrix and Anichino might subtilly smile thereat in secret, in regard that they knew more then any other else beside did. But, as for honest meaning Egano, hee never had so much as the verie least mistrust of ill dealing, either in his Lady, or Anichino; whom hee loved and esteemed farre more respectively uppon this proofe of his honestie towards him, then hee would or could possibly have done, without a triall so playne and pregnant.[ Hide Seventh Novell ]
It seemed to the whole assembly, that Madam Beatrix, dealte somewhat strangely, in the manner of beguiling her husband; and affirmed also, that Anichino had great cause of fear, when she held him so strongly by her beds side, and related all his amorous temptation. But when the King perceyved, that Madame Philomena sate silent, he turned to Madam Neiphila, willing her to supply the next place; who modestly smiling, thus began.
Faire Ladies, it were an heavy burthen imposed on me, and a matter much surmounting my capacity, if I should vainely imagine, to content you with so pleasing a Novell, as those have already done, by you so singularly reported: neverthelesse, I must discharge my dutie, and take my fortune as it fals, albeit I hope to finde you mercifull.
You are to know then, that sometime there lived in our Citie, a very welthy Merchant, named Arriguccio Berlinghieri, who (as many Merchants have done) fondly imagined, to make himselfe a Gentleman by marriage. Which that he might the more assuredly do, he took to wife a Gentlewoman, one much above his degree or element, she being named Simonida. Now, in regard that he delighted (as it is the usuall life of a Merchant) to be often abroad, and little at home, whereby shee had small benefit of his company; shee grew very forward in affection with a young Gentleman, called Signior Roberto, who had solicited hir by many amorous meanes, and (at length) prevailed to win her favor. Which favour being once obtained; affection gaddes so farre beyond al discretion, and makes Lovers so heedelesse of their private conversations: that either they are taken tardy in their folly, or else subjected to scandalous suspition.
It came to passe, that Arriguccio, either by rumour, or some other more sensible apprehension, had received such intelligence concerning his Wife Simonida, as he grew into extraordinarie jealousie of her, refraining travaile abroad, as formerly he was wont to doe, and ceassing from his verie ordinary affayres, addicting all his care and endeavour, onely to be watchfull of his Wife; so that he never durst sleepe, untill she were by him in the bed, which was no meane mollestation to her, being thus curbd from her familiar meetings with Roberto. Neverthelesse, having a long while consulted with her wittes, to find some apte meanes for conversing with him, being thereto also very earnestlie still solicited by him; you shall heare what course she undertooke.
Her Chamber being on the streete side, and somewhat juttying over it, she observed the disposition of her Husband, that every night it was long before he fell asleepe: but beeing once falne into it, no noyse whatsoever, could easily wake him. This his solemne and sound sleeping, emboldned her so farre, as to meete with Roberto at the streete doore, which (while her Husband slept) softly she would open to him, and therein private converse with him.
But, because shee would know the certaine houre of his comming, without the least suspition of any: she hung a thred forth of her Chamber Window, descending downe, within the compasse of Robertoes reach in the street, and the other end thereof, guided from the Window to the bed, being conveyed under the Cloathes, and shee being in bed, she fastned it about her left great Toe, wherewith Roberto was sufficiently acquainted, and thus enstructed withall; that at his comming, he should plucke the thred, and if her husband was in his dead sleep, she would let go the thred, and come downe to him: but if he slept not, she would hold it strongly, and then his tarrying would prove but in vaine, there could be no meeting that night.
This devise was highly pleasing both to Roberto and Simonida, being the intelligencer of their often meeting, and many times also advising the contrary. But in the end, as the quaintest cunning may faile at one time or other; so it fortuned one night, that Simonida being in a sound sleepe, and Arriguccio waking, because his drowsie houre was not yet come: as he extendeth forth his legge in the bed, he found the thred, which feeling in his hand, and perceiving it was tyed to his wives great toe; it prooved apt tinder to kindle further jealousie, and now hee suspected some treachery indeede, and so much the rather because the thred guided (under the cloathes) from the bed to the window, and there hanging downe into the streete, as a warning to some further businesse.
Now was Arriguccio so furiously enflamed, that hee must needes bee further resolved in this apparant doubt: and because therein hee would not be deceived, softly he cut the thred from his wives toe, and made it fast about his owne; to trye what successe would ensue thereon. It was not long before Roberto came, and according as hee used to doe, hee pluckt the thred, which Arriguccio felt, but because hee had not tyed it fast, and Roberto pulling it over-hardly, it fell downe from the window into his hand, which he understood as his lesson, to attend her comming, and so hee did. Arriguccio stealing softly out of bed from his wife, and taking his Sword under his arme, went downe to the doore, to see who it was, with full intent of further revenge. Now, albeit he was a Merchant, yet he wanted not courage, and boldnesse of spirit, and opening the doore without any noyse, onely as his wife was wont to doe: Roberto, there waiting his entrance, perceived by the doores unfashionable opening, that it was not Simonida, but her Husband, whereupon he betooke himselfe to flight and Arriguccio fiercely followed him. At the length, Roberto perceiving that flight avayled him not, because his enemy still pursued him: being armed also with a Sword, as Arriguccio was; he returned backe upon him, the one offering to offend, as the other stood upon his defence, and so in the darke they fought together.
Simonida awaking, even when her Husband went foorth of the Chamber, and finding the thred to be cut from her toe; conjectured immediately, that her subtle cunning was discovered, and supposing her Husband in pursuite of Roberto, presently she arose; and, considering what was likely to ensue thereon, called her Chamber-maide (who was not ignorant of the businesse) and by perswasions prevailed so with her, that she lay downe in her place in the bed, upon solemne protestations and liberall promises, not to make her selfe knowne, but to suffer all patiently, either blowes, or other ill usage of her Husband, which shee would recompence in such bountifull sort, as she should have no occasion to complaine. So, putting out the watchlight, which every night burned in the Chamber, she departed thence, and sate downe in a close corner of the house, to see what would be the end of all this stirre, after her Husbands comming home.
The fight (as you have formerly heard) continuing betweene Roberto and Arriguccio, the neighbours hearing of the clashing of their Swords in the streets; arose out of their beds, and reproved them in very harsh manner. In which respect Arriguccio, fearing to be knowne, and ignorant also what his adversary was (no harme being as yet done on either side) permitted him to depart; and extreamely full of anger, returned backe againe to his house. Being come up into his bed-chamber, thus he began; Where is this lewde and wicked woman? what? hast thou put out the light, because I should not finde thee? that shall not avayle thee, for I can well enough finde a drab in the darke. So, groping on to the beds side, and thinking hee had taken holde on his wife, he grasped the Chamber-maide, so beating her with his fists, and spurning her with his feet, that al her face was bloody and bruised. Next, with his knife he cut off a great deal of her haire, giving her the most villanous speeches as could be devised: swearing, that he would make her a shame to all the world.
You need make no doubt, but the poore maide wept exceedingly, as she had good occasion to doe: and albeit many times she desired mercy, and that hee would not bee so cruell to her: yet notwithstanding, her voyce was so broken with crying, and his impacience so extreame, that rage hindered all power of distinguishing, or knowing his wives tongue from a strangers. Having thus madly beaten her, and cut the lockes off from her head, thus he spake to her. Wicked woman, and no wife of mine, be sure I have not done with thee yet; for, although I meane not now to beate thee any longer: I will goe to thy brethren, and they shall understand thy dishonest behaviour. Then will I bring them home with me, and they perceiving how much thou hast abused both their honour and thine owne; let them deale with thee as they finde occasion, for thou art no more a companion for me. No sooner had he uttered these angry words, but hee went forth of the Chamber, bolting it fast on the outward side, as meaning to keepe her safely inclosed, and out of the house he went alone by himselfe.
Simonida, who had heard all this tempestuous conflict, perceiving that her Husband had lockt the streete doore after him, and was gone whether he pleased: unbolted the Chamber doore, lighted a waxe candle, and went in to see her poore maide, whom she found to be most pittifully misused. She comforted her as well as she could, brought her into her owne lodging Chamber, where washing her face and hurts in very soveraigne waters, and rewarding her liberally with Arriguccioes owne Gold; she held her selfe to be sufficiently satisfyed. So, leaving the maide in her lodging, and returning again to her owne Chamber: she made up the bed in such former manner, as if no body had lodged therein that night. Then hanging up her Lampe fresh fild with oyle, and clearly lighted, she deckt her selfe in so decent sort, as if she had bin in no bed all that night.
Then taking sowing worke in her hand, either shirts or bands of her Husbands; hanging the Lampe by her, and sitting downe at the stayres head, she fell to worke in very serious manner, as if shee had undertaken some imposed taske.
On the other side, Arriguccio had travelled so farre from his house, till he came at last to the dwelling of Simonidaes brethren: where hee knockt so soundly, that he was quickely heard, and (almost as speedily) let in. Simonidaes brethren, and her mother also, hearing of Arriguccioes comming thither so late. Rose from their beds, and each of them having a Waxe Candle lighted, came presently to him, to understand the cause of this his so unseasonable visitation. Arriguccio, beginning at the originall of the matter, the thred found tyed about his wives great toe, the fight and houshold conflict after following: related every circumstance to them. And for the better proofe of his words, he shewed them the thred it selfe, the lockes supposed of his wives haire, and adding withall; that they might now dispose of Simonida as themselves pleased, because she should remaine no longer in his house.
The brethren to Simonida were exceedingly offended at this relation, in regard they beleeved it for truth, and in this fury, commanded Torches to be lighted, preparing to part thence with Arriguccio home to his house, for the more sharpe reprehension of their Sister. Which when their mother saw, she followed them weeping, first entreating one, and then the other, not to be over rash in crediting such a slander, but rather to consider the truth thereof advisedly: because the Husband might be angry with his Wife upon some other occasion, and having outraged her, made this the meanes in excuse of himselfe. Moreover she said, that she could not chuse but wonder greatly, how this matter should thus come to passe: because she had good knowledge of her daughter, during the whole course of her education, faultlesse and blamelesse in every degree; with many other good words of her beside, as proceeding from naturall affection of a mother.
Being come to the house of Arriguccio, entring in, and ascending up the stayres: they heard Simonida sweetly singing at her working; but pausing, upon hearing their rude trampling, shee demaunded, who was there. One of the angry brethren presently answered: Lewde woman as thou art, thou shalt know soone enough who is heere: Our blessed Lady be with us (quoth Simonida) and sweet Saint Frances helpe to defend me, who dare use such unseemely speeches? Starting up and meeting them on the staire head: Kinde brethren, (said she) is it you? What, and my loving mother too? For sweet Saint Charities sake, what may be the reason of your comming hither in this manner. Shee being set downe againe to her worke, so neatly apparelled, without any signe of outrage offered her, her face unblemished, her haire comely ordered, and differing wholly from the former speeches of her Husband: the Brethren marvelled thereat not a little; and asswaging somewhat the impetuous torrent of their rage, began to demaund in coole blood, (as it were) from what ground her Husbands complaints proceeded, and threatning her roughly, if she would not confesse the truth intirely to them.
Ave Maria (quoth Simonida, crossing her selfe) Alas deare Brethren, I know not what you say, or meane, nor wherein my Husband should bee offended, or make any complaint at all of me. Arriguccio hearing this looked on her like a man that had lost his Senses: for well he remembred, how many cruell blowes he had given her on the face, beside scratches of his nailes, and spurnes of his feet, as also the cutting of her haire, the least shew of all which misusage, was not now to be seene. Her brethren likewise briefly told her, the whole effect of her Husbands speeches, shewing her the thred, and in what cruell manner he sware hee did beate her. Simonida, turning then to her Husband, and seeming as confounded with amazement, said. How is this Husband? what doe I heare? would you have me supposed (to your owne shame and disgrace) to be a bad woman, and your selfe a cruell curst man, when (on either side) there is no such matter? When were you this night heere in the house with mee? Or when should you beate mee, and I not feele nor know it? Beleeve me (sweete heart) all these are meerely miracles to me.
Now was Arriguccio ten times more mad in his minde, then before, saying. Divell, and no woman, did wee not this night goe both together to bed? Did not I cut this thred from thy great toe, tyed it to mine, and found the craftie compact betweene thee and thy Minnion? Did not I follow and fight with him in the streets? Came I not backe againe, and beate thee as a Strumpet should be? And are not these the locks of haire, which I my selfe did cut from thy bead?
Alas Sir (quoth she) where have you been? doe you know what you say? you did not lodge in this house this night, neither did I see you all the whole day and night, till now.
But leaving this, and come to the matter now in question, because I have no other testimony then mine owne words. You say, that you did beate me, and cut those lockes of haire from my head. Alas Sir, why should you slander your selfe? In all your life time you did never strike me. And to approve the truth of my speeches, doe you your selfe, and all else heere present, looke on me advisedly, if any signe of blow or beating is to be seene on me. Nor were it an easie matter for you to doe either to smite, or so much as lay your hand (in anger) on me, it would cost dearer then you thinke for. And whereas you say, that you did cut those lockes of haire from my head; it is more then either I know, or felt, nor are they in colour like to mine: but, because my Mother and brethren shall be my witnesses therein, and whether you did it without my knowledge; you shall all see, if they be cut, or no. So, taking off her head attyre, she displayed her hayre over her shoulders, which had suffered no violence, neither seemed to bee so much as uncivilly or rudely handled.
When the mother and brethren saw this, they began to murmure against Arriguccio, saying. What thinke you of this Sir? you tell us of strange matters which you have done, and all proving false, we wonder how you can make good the rest. Arriguccio looked wilde, and confusedly, striving still to maintaine his accusation: but seeing every thing to bee flatly against him, he durst not attempt to speake one word. Simonida tooke advantage of this distraction in him, and turning to her brethren, saide. I see now the marke whereat he aymeth, to make me doe what I never meante: Namely, that I should acquaint you with his vile qualities, and what a wretched life I leade with him, which seeing hee will needes have me to reveale; beare with me if I doe it upon compulsion.
Mother and Brethren, I am verily perswaded, that those accidents which he disclosed to you, hath doubtlesse (in the same manner) happened to him, and you shall heare how. Very true it is, that this seeming honest man, to whom (in a lucklesse houre) you married me, stileth himselfe by the name of a Merchant, coveting to be so accounted and credited, as holy in outward appearance, as a Religious Monke, and as demure in lookes, as the modestest Maide: like a notorious common drunkard, is a Taverne hunter, where making his luxurius matches, one while with one Whore, then againe with another; hee causeth mee every night to sit tarrying for him, even in the same sort as you found me: sometimes till midnight, and otherwhiles till broad day light in the morning.
And questionlesse, being in his wounted drunken humour, hee hath lyen with one of his sweet Consorts, about whose toe he found the thred, and finding her as false to him, as he hath alwayes been to me: Did not onely beat her, but also cut the haire from her head. And having not yet recovered his sences, is verily perswaded, and cannot be altered from it; but that hee performed all this villany to me. And if you doe but advisedly observe his countenance, he appeareth yet to be more then halfe drunke.
But whatsoever he hath said concerning me, I make no account at all thereof, because he spake it in his drunkennesse, and as freely as I forgive him, even so (good Mother and kinde Brethren,) let mee entreate you to do the like.
When the Mother had heard these words, and confidently beleeved her Daughter: she began to torment her selfe with anger, saying. By the faith of my body Daughter, this unkindnesse is not [to] be endured, but rather let the dogge be hanged, that his qualities may be knowne, he being utterly unworthy, to have so good a woman to his wife, as thou art. What could he have done if he had taken thee in the open more, and in company of some wanton Gallants? In an unfortunate houre wast thou married to him, base jealous Coxecombe as he is, and it is quite against sense, or reason, that thou shouldest be subject to his fooleries. What was hee, but a Merchant of Eale-skinnes or Orenges, bred in some paltry countrey village; taken from Hogge-rubbing; clothed in Sheepes-Sattin, with Clownish Startops, Leather stockings, and Caddies garters: His whole habite not worth three shillings: And yet he must have a faire Gentlewoman to his Wife, of honest fame, riches and reputation; when, comparing his pedegree with hers, hee is farre unfit to wipe her shooes.
Oh my deare sonnes, I would you had followed my counsell, and permitted her to mate in the honourable family of Count Guido, which was much mooved, and seriously pursued. But you would needs bestow her on this goodly jewell; who, although shee is one of the choysest beauties in Florence, chaste, honest and truely vertuous: Is not ashamed at midnight, to proclaime her for a common whore, as if we had no better knowledge of her. But by the blessed mother of Saint John, if you would be ruled by mine advise; our law should make him dearely smart for it.
Alas my sonnes, did I not tell you at home in our owne house, that his words were no way likely to prove true? Have not your eyes observed his unmannerly behaviour to your Sister? If I were as you are, hearing what he hath said, and noting his drunken carriage beside; I should never give over, as long as he had any life left in him. And were I a man, as I am a woman, none other then my selfe should revenge her wrongs, making him a publike spectacle to all drabbing drunkards.
When the brethren had heard and observed all these occurrences; in most bitter manner they railed on Arriguccio, bestowing some good bastinadoes on him beside, concluding thus with him in the end. Quoth one of them, Wee will pardon this shamefull abusing of our Sister, because thou art a notorious drunkard: but looke to it (on perill of thy life) that we have no more such newes hereafter; for, beleeve it unfainedly, if any such impudent rumours happen to our eares, or so much as a flying fame thereof; thou shalt surely be paide for both faults together.
So home againe went they, and Arriguccio stood like one that had neither life or motion, not knowing (whether what he had done) was true, or no, or if he dreamed all this while, and so (without uttering any word) he left his Wife, and went quietly to bed. Thus by her wisdome, she did not onely prevent an imminent perill: but also made a free and open passage, to further contentment with her amourous friend, yet dreadlesse of any distaste or suspition in her Husband.[ Hide Eight Novell ]
The Novell delivered, by Madame Neiphila, seemed so pleasing to all the Ladies; as they could not refraine from hearty laughter, beside much liberality of speech. Albeit the King did oftentimes urge silence, and commanded Pamphilus to follow next. So, when attention was admitted, Pamphilus began in this order. I am of opinion, faire Ladies, that there is not any matter, how uneasie or doubtfull soever it may seeme to be; but the man or woman that affecteth fervently, dare boldly attempt, and effectually accomplish. And this perswasion of mine, although it hath beene sufficiently approved, by many of our passed Novels: Yet notwithstanding, I shall make it much apparent to you, by a present discourse of mine owne. Wherein I have occasion to speake of a Lady, to whom Fortune was more favourable, then either reason or judgement, could give direction. In which regard, I would not advise any of you, to entertaine so high an imagination of minde, as to tracke her footsteps of whom I am now to speake: because Fortune containeth not alwayes one and the same disposition, neither can all mens eyes be blinded after one manner. And so proceed we to our Tale.
In Argos, a most ancient Citie of Achaya, much more renowned by her precedent Kings, then wealth, or any other great matter of worth: there lived as Lieutenant or Governour thereof, a Noble Lord, named Nicostratus, on whom (albeit hee was well stept into yeares) Fortune bestowed in marriage a great Lady, no lesse bold of spirit, then choisely beautifull. Nicostratus, abounding in treasure and wealthy possessions, kept a goodly traine of Servants, Horses, Houndes, Hawkes, and what else not, as having an extraordinary felicity in all kinds of game, as singular exercises to maintaine his health.
Among his other Servants and Followers, there was a yong Gentleman, gracefull of person, excellent in speech, and every way as active as no man could be more: his name Pyrrhus, highly affected of Nicostratus, and more intimately trusted then all the rest. Such seemed the perfections of this Pyrrhus, that Lydia (for so was the Lady named) began to affect him very earnestly, and in such sort, as day or night shee could take no rest, but devised all meanes to compasse her harts desire. Now, whether he observed this inclination of her towards him, or else would take no notice thereof, it could not be discerned by any outward apprehension: which moved the more impatiency in her, and drove her hopes to dispairing passions. Wherein to finde some comfort and ease, she called an ancient Gentlewoman of her Chamber, in whom shee reposed especiall confidence, and thus she spake to her.
Lesca, The good turnes and favours thou hast received from me, should make thee faithfull and obedient to me: and therefore set a locke uppon thy lippes, for revealing to any one whatsoever, such matters as now I shall impart to thee; except it be to him that I command thee. Thou perceivest Lesca, how youthfull I am, apt to all sprightly recreations, rich, and abounding in all that a woman can wish to have, in regard of Fortunes common and ordinary favours: yet I have one especiall cause of complaint: namely, the inequality of my Mariage, my Husband being over-ancient for me; in which regard, my youth finds it selfe too highly wronged, being defeated of those duties and delights, which Women (farre inferiour to me) are continuallie cloyed withall, and I am utterly deprived of. I am subject to the same desires they are, and deserve to taste the benefit of them, in as ample manner, as they do or can.
Hitherto I have lived with the losse of time, which yet (in some measure) may be releeved and recompenced: For, though Fortune were mine enemy in Mariage, by such a disproportion of our conditions: yet she may befriend in another nature, and kindely redeeme the injury done me. Wherefore Lesca, to be as compleate in this case, as I am in all the rest beside; I have resolved upon a private Friend, and one more worthy then any other, Namely, my Servant Pyrrhus, whose youth carieth some correspondency with mine; and so constantly have I setled my love to him, as I am not well, but when I thinke on him, or see him: and (indeede) shall dye, except the sooner I may enjoy him. And therefore, if my life and well-fare be respected by thee, let him understand the integrity of mine affection, by such good means as thou findest it most expedient to be done: entreating him from me, that I may have some conference with him, when he shall thereto be solicited by me.
The Chamber-Gentlewoman Lesca, willingly undertooke the Ladies Embassie; and so soone as opportunity did favor her: having withdrawne Pyrrhus into an apt and commodious place, shee delivered the Message to him, in the best manner she could devise. Which Pyrrhus hearing, did not a little wonder thereat, never having noted any such matter; and therefore sodainly conceyved, that the Lady did this onely to try him; whereupon, somewhat roundly and roughly, hee returned this answere. Lesca, I am not so simple, as to credite any such Message to be sent from my Lady, and therefore be better advised of thy words. But admit that it should come from her, yet I cannot be perswaded, that her soule consented to such harsh Language, far differing from a forme so full of beuty. And yet admit againe, that her hart and tongue herein were relatives: My Lord and Master hath so farre honoured mee, and so much beyond the least part of merite in mee: as I will rather dye, then any way offer to disgrace him: And therefore I charge thee, never more to move mee in this matter.
Lesca, not a jot danted at his stearne words, presently she saide. Pyrrhus, Both in this and all other Messages my Lady shall command me, I wil speake to thee whensoever shee pleaseth, receive what discontent thou canst thereby; or make presumption of what doubts thou maist devise. But as I found thee a senselesse fellow, dull, and not shaped to any understanding, so I leave thee: And in that anger parted from him, carrying backe the same answer to her Lady. She no sooner heard it, but instantly shee wished her selfe to be dead; and within some few dayes after, she conferred againe with her Chamber-woman, saying. Lesca, thou knowest well enough, that the Oxe falleth not at the first blow of the Axel neither is the victory won, upon a silly and shallow adventure: Wherefore, I thinke it convenient, that once more thou shouldst make another tryall of him, who (in prejudice to me) standeth so strictly on his loyalty, and choosing such an houre as seemeth most commodious, soundly possesse him with my tormenting passions. Bestirre thy Wittes, and tippe thy tongue with a Womans eloquence, to effect what I so earnestly desire: because, by languishing in this lovesicke affliction, it will bee the danger of my death, and some severe detriment to him, to be the occasion of so great a losse.
Lesca, comforted her Lady, so much as lay in her power to doe, and having sought for Pyrrhus, whom she found at good leysure; and, in a pleasing humor, thus she beganne. Pyrrhus, some few dayes since I tolde thee, in what extreame Agonies thy Lady and mine was, onely in regarde of her love to thee: and now againe I come once more, to give thee further assurance thereof: Wherefore, beleeve it unfeignedly, that if thy obstinacie continue still, in like manner as the other day it did, expect very shortly to heare the tydings of her death.
It is my part therefore, to entreat thee, to comfort her long languishing desires: but if thou persist in thy harsh opinion, in stead of reputing thee a wise and fortunate yong man, I shall confesse thee to bee an ignoraunt Asse. What a glorie is it to thee, to be affected of so faire and worthy a Lady, beyond all men else whatsoever? Next to this, tell me, how highly maist thou confesse thy self beholding to Fortune, if thou but duly consider, how shee hath elected thee as sole soveraigne of her hopes, which is a crowne of honour to thy youth and a sufficient refuge against all wants and necessities? Where is any to thy knowledge like thy selfe, that can make such advantage of his time, as thou maist do, if thou wert wise? Where canst thou find any one to go beyond thee in Armes, Horses, sumptuous garments, and Gold, as will be heaped on thee, if Lydia may be the Lady of thy love? Open then thine understanding to my words, returne into thine owne souie, and bee wise for thy selfe.
Remember (Pyrrhus) that Fortune presents her selfe but once before any one, with cheerefull lookes, and her lappe wide open of richest favours, where if choice be not quickely made, before she folde it up, not quic and turn her backe; let no complaint afterward be made of her, if the Fellow that had so faire an offer, proove to be miserable, wretched, and a Begger, only thorow his owne negligence. Beside, what else hath formerly bin saide, there is now no such neede of loyaltie in servants to their Ladies, as should be among deare Friends and Kindred: but servants ought rather (as best they may) be such to their Masters, as they are to them. Doest thou imagine, that if thou hadst a faire Wife, Mother, Daughter, or Sister, pleasing in the eye of our Nicostratus; he would stand on such nice tearmes of duty or Loyaltie, as now thou doest to his Ladie? Thou wert a verie foole to rest so perswaded. Assure thy selfe, that if entreaties and faire means might not prevalle, force, and compulsion (whatsoever ensued thereon) woulde winne the masterie. Let us then use them, and the commodities unto them belonging, as they would us and ours. Use the benefit of thy Fortune, and beware of abusing her favour. She yet smiles on thee; but take heede least she turne her backe, it will then be over-late to repent thy folly. And if my Ladie die through thy disdaine, be assured, that thou canst not escape with life, beside open shame and disgrace for ever.
Pyrrhus, who had often considered on Lescaes first message, concluded with himselfe; that if any more she moved the same matter: hee would returne her another kinde of answere, wholly yeelding to content his Lady; provided, that he might remaine assured, concerning the intyre truth of the motion, and that it was not urged onely to trie him, wherefore, thus he replyed. Lesca, do not imagine mee so ignorant, as not to know the certaintie of all thy former allegations, confessing them as freely as thou doest, or canst. But yet let mee tell thee withall, that I knowe my Lord to be wise and judicious, and having committed all his affaires to my care and trust: never blame mee to misdoubt, least my Ladie (by his counsell and advice) make thee the messenger of this motion, therby to call my Fidelitie in question.
To cleare which doubt, and for my further assurance of her well meanning toward me; if she wil undertake the performance of three such things as I must needes require in this case: I am afterward her owne, in any service she can command me. The first of them, is; that in the presence of my Lord and Master, she kill his faire Faulcon, which so dearly hee affecteth. The second, to send me a locke or tuft of his beard, being puld away with her owne hand. The third and last, with the same hand also, to pluck out one of his best and soundest teeth, and send it mee as her loves true token. When I finde all these three effectually performed, I am wholly hers, and not before.
These three strict impositions, seemed to Lesca, and her Ladie likewise, almost beyond the compasse of all possibility. Nevertheles Love, being a powerfull Oratour in perswading, as also adventurous even on the most difficult dangers; gave her courage to undertake them all: sending Lesca backe againe to him, with full assurance, of these more then Herculean labours. Moreover, her selfe did intend to adde a fourth taske, in regard of his strong opinion concerning the great Wisedome of his Lord and Maister. After she had effected all the other three, she would not permit him to kisse her, but before his Lords face: which yet should be accomplished in such sort, as Nicostratus himselfe should not beleeve it, although apparantly he saw it. Well, (quoth Pyrrhus) when all these wonders are performed, assure my Ladie. that I am truelie hers.
Within a short while after, Nicostratus made a solemne Feastival (accorling as yearely he used to doe) in honour of his birth day, inviting many Lords and Ladies thereto. On which rejoycing day, so soone as dinner was ended, and the Tables withdrawne: Lydia came into the great Hall, where the Feast was solemnly kept; very rich and costly apparrelled; and there, in presence of Pyrrhus, and the whole assemblie, going to the Perch whereon the Faulcone sate, wherein her Husband tooke no little delight, and having untyed her, as if shee meant to beare her on her Fist: tooke her by the jesses, and beating her against the wal, killed her. Nicostratus beholding this, called out aloud unto her, saying. Alas Madame! What have you done? She making him no answere, but turning to the Lords and Ladies, which had dined there, spake in this manner.
Ill should I take revenge on a King, that had offended me, if I had not so much heart, as to wreake my spleene on a paltry Hawke. Understand then, worthy Lords and Ladies, that this Faulcone hath long time robbed me of those delights, which men (in meere equitie) ought to have with their wives: because continually, so as breake of day hath appeared, my Husband, starting out of bed, makes him selfe readie, presently to Horsse, and with this Faulcon on his Fist, rides abroad to his recreation in the Fields. And I, in such forsaken sort as you see, am left all alone in my bed, discontented and despised: often vowing to my selfe, to bee thus revenged as now I am, being with-held from it by no other occasion, but onely want of a fit and apt time, to do it in the presence of such persons, as might bee just judges of my wrongs, and as I conceive you all to be.
The Lords and Ladies hearing these words, and beleeving this deed of hers to be done no otherwise, but out of her entire affection to Nicostratus, according as her speeches sounded: compassionately turning towards him (who was exceedingly displeased) and all smiling, said. Now in good sadnesse Sir; Madame Lydia hath done well in acting her just revenge upon the Hawke, that bereft her of her Husbands kinde companie; then which nothing is more precious to a loving wife, and a hell it is to live without it. And Lydia, being sodainly with. into her chamber; with much other friendly and familiar talke, they converted the anger of Nicostratus into mirth and smiling.
Pyrrhus, who had diligently observed the whole cariage of this businesse, saide to himselfe. My Ladie hath begun well, and proceeding on with no worse successe, will (no doubt) bring her love to an happy conclusion. As for the Lady her selfe, she having thus kild the Hawke, it was no long while after, but being in the Chamber with her husband, and they conversing familiarly together; she began to jest with him, and hee in the like manner with her, tickling and toying each the other, till at the length she played with his beard, and now she found occasion aptly serving, to effect the second taske imposed by Pyrrhus. So, taking fast hold on a small tuft of his beard, she gave a sodaine snatch, and plucked it away quite from his chin. Whereat Nicostratus beeing angerly moved, she (to appease his distaste) pleasantly thus spake. How now my Lord? Why do you looke so frowningly? What? Are you angry for a few loose haires of your beard? How then should I take it, when you plucke mee by the haire of my head, and yet I am not a jot discontented, because I know you do it but in jesting manner? These friendly speeches cut off all further contention, and she kepte charily the tuft of er Husbands beard, which (the verie selfe-same day) shee sent to Pyrrhus her hearts chosen friend.
But now concerning the third matter to be adventured, it drove her to a much more serious consideration, then those two which shee had already so well and exactly performed. Notwithstanding, like a Ladie of unconquerable spirit, and (in whom) Love enlarged his power more and more: she sodainly conceited, what course was best to bee kept in this case, forming her attempt in this manner. Upon Nicostratus wayted two young Gentlemen, as Pages of his Chamber, whose Fathers had given them to his service, to learne the manners of honourable Courtship, and those qualities necessarily required in Gentlemen. One of them, when Nicostratus sate downe to dinner or supper, stood in Office of his Carver, delivering him all the meats whereon he fed. The other (as Taster) attended on his Cup, and he dranke no other drinke, but what hee brought him, and they both were highly pleasing unto him.
On a day, Lydia called these two youths aside; and, among some other speeches, which served but as an induction to her intended policy; she perswaded them, that their mouths yeelded an unsavoury and ilpleasing smell, whereof their Lord seemed to take dislike. Wherefore she advised them, that at such times as they attended on him in their severall places: they should (so much as possibly they could) withdraw their heads aside from him, because their breath might not be noyous unto him. But withall, to have an especiall care, of not disclosing to any one, what she had told them; because (out of meere love) she had acquainted them therewith: which very coistantly they beleeved, and followed the same direction as she had advised, being loath to displease, where service bound them to obey. Choosing a time fitting for her purpose, when Nicostratus was in private conference with her, thus she began. Sir, you observe not the behaviour of your two Pages, when they wait on you at the Table? Yes but I do wife (quoth he) how squemishly they turn their heads aside from me, and it hath often bin in my minde, to understand a reason why they do so.
Seating her selfe by him, as if shee had some weighty matter to tell him; she proceeded in this manner. Alas my Lord, you shall not need to question them, because I can sufficiently resolve you therein: which (neverthelesse) I have long concealed, because I would not be offensive to you. But in regard, it is now manifestly apparant, that others have tasted, what (I immagined) none but my selfe did, I will no longer hide it from you. Assuredly Sir, there is a most strange and unwonted ill-savour, continually issuing from your mouth, smelling most noysomely, and I wonder what should be the occasion. In former times, I never felt any such foule breathing to come from you: and you, who do dally converse with so many worthy persons, should seeke meanes to be rid of so great an annoyance. You say verie true wife (answered Nicostratus) and I protest to you on my Credite, I feele no such ill smell, neither know what should cause it, except I have som corrupted tooth in my mouth. Perhaps Sir (quoth she) it may be so, and yet you feele not the savour which others do, yea, very offensively.
So, walking with her to a Window, he opened wide his mouth, the which nicely shee surveyed on either side, and, turning her head from him, as seeming unable to endure the savour: starting, and shrieking out alowd, she said. Santa Maria! What a sight is this? Alas my good Lord, How could you abide this, and for so long a while? Heere is a tooth on this side, which (so farre as I can perceive) is not onely hollow and corrupted: but also wholly putrified and rotten, and if it continue still in your head, beleeve it for a truth, that it will infect and spoile all the rest neere it. I would therefore counsell you, to let it be pluckt out, before it breede your further danger. I like your counsell well Lydia, replyed Nicostratus, and presently intend to follow it; Let therefore my Barber be sent for, and, without any longer delay, he shall plucke it forth instantly.
How sir? (quoth she,) your Barber? Uppon mine Honour, there shall come no Barber heere. Why Sir, it is such a rotten Tooth, and standeth so fairely for my hand: that, without helpe or advice of any Barber, let mee alone for plucking it forth without putting you to any paine at all. Moreover, let me tell you Sir, those Tooth-drawers are so rude and cruell, in performing such Offices, as my heart cannot endure, that you should come within compasse of their currish courtesie, neither shall you Sir, if you will be ruled by me. If I should faile in the manner of their facilitie, yet love and duty hath enstructed me, to forbeare your least paining, which no unmannerly Barber will do.
Having thus spoken, and he well contented with her kinde offer, the instruments were brought, which are used in such occasions, all being commanded forth of the Chamber, but onely Lesca, who evermore kept still in her company. So, locking fast the doore, and Nicostratus being seated, as she thought fittest for her purpose, she put the Tanacles into his mouth, catching fast hold on one of his soundest teeth: which, notwithstanding his loud crying, Lesca held him so strongly, that forth she pluckt it, and hid it, having another tooth readie made hot, and bloody, very much corrupted and rotten, which she helde in the Tanacles, and shewed to him, who was well-neere halfe dead with anguish. See Sir (quoth she) was this Tooth to be suffered in your head, and to yeeld so foule a smell as it did? He verily beleeving what she said, albeit hee had endured extreame paine, and still complained on her harsh and violent pulling it out: rejoyced yet, that he was now ridde of it, and she comforting him on the one side, and the anguish asswaging him on the other, he departed forth of the Chamber.
In the mean while, by Lesca she sent the sound tooth to Pyrrhus, who (wondering not a little at her so many strange attempts, which hee urged so much the rather, as thinking their performance impossible, and in meere loyall duty to his Lord) seeing them all three to be notably effected; he made no further doubt of her intire love towardes him, but sent her assurance likewise, of his readinesse and serviceable diligence, whensoever she would command him.
Now, after the passage of all these adventures, hardly to bee undertaken by any other Woman: yet she held them insufficient for his security, in the grounded perswasion of her love to him, except shee performed another of her owne, and according as shee had boldly promised. Houres do now seeme dayes, and dayes multiplicitie of yeeres, till the kisse may be given, and receyved in the presence of Nicostratus, yet hee himselfe to avouch the contrary.
Madam Lydia (upon a pretended sicknesse) keepeth her chamber, and as women can hardly be exceeded in dissimulation: so, shee wanted no wit, to seeme exquisitely cunning, in all the outwarde apparances of sicknesse. One day after dinner, shee being visited by Nicostratus, and none attending on him but Pyrrhus onely: she earnestly entreated, that as a mitigation, to some inward afflictions which she felt, they would helpe to guide her into the Garden.
Most gladly was her motion graunted, and Nicostratus gently taking her by one arme, and Pyrrhus by the other, so they conducted her into the Garden, seating her in a faire floury Grasse-plot, with her backe leaning to a Peare-tree. Having sitten there an indifferent while, and Pyrrhus, being formerly enstructed, in the directions which she had given him, thus shee spake, some-what faintly. Pyrrhus, I have a kinde of longing desire upon a sodaine, to taste of these Peares: Wherefore, climbe up into the Tree, and cast me downe one or two; which instantly hee did. Being aloft in the Tree, and throwing downe some of the best and ripest Peares; at length (according to his premeditated Lesson) looking downe, he said.
Forbeare my Lord, Do you not see, in how weake and feeble condition my Ladie is, being shaken with so violent a sicknesse? And you Madam, how kinde and loving soever you are to my Lord, Are you so little carefull of your health, being but now come forth of your sicke Chamber, to be ruffled and tumbled in such rough manner? Though such dalliances are not amisse in you both; being fitter for the private Chamber, then an open garden, and in the presence of a servant: yet time and place should alwaies bee respectively considered, for the avoiding of ill example, and better testimonie of your owne Wisedomes, which ever should be like your selves. But if so soone, and even in the heate of a yet turbulent sicknesse, your equall love can admit these kisses and embraces: your private Lodginges were much more convenient, where no Servants eye can see such Wantonnesse, nor you be reproved of indiscretion, for being too publique in your Familiaritie. Madame Lydia, sodainely starting, and turning unto her Husband, sayde. What doth Pyrrhus prate? Is he well in his wittes? Or is he franticke? No Madame, replyed Pyrrhus, I am not franticke. Are you so fond as to thinke that I do not see your folly? Nicostratus wondering at his Words, presently answered. Now trust me Pyrrhus, I think thou dreamest. No my Lord, replyed Pyrrhus, I dreame not a jot, neither do you, or my Ladie: but if this Tree could affoord the like kindnesse to me, as you do to her, there would not a Peare bee left uppon it. How now Pyrrhus? (quoth Lydia) this language goeth beyond our understanding, it seemeth thou knowest not what thou saist. Beleeve me husband, if I were as well as ever I have bin, I would climb this tree, to see those idle wonders which hee talketh of: for, while he continueth thus above, it appeareth, hee can finde no other prattle, albeit he taketh his marke amisse.
Heereupon, he commanded Pyrrhus to come downe, and being on the ground: Now Pyrrhus (quoth he) tell me what thou saydst. Pyrrhus, pretending an alteration into much amazement, straungely looking about him, saide; I know not verie well (my Lord) what answere I should make you, fearing least my sight hath bin abused by error: for when I was aloft in that Tree, it seemed manifestly to me: that you embraced my Lady (though somewhat rudely, in regard of her perillous sicknesse, yet lovingly) and as youthfully as in your yonger dales, with infinite kisses, and wanton dalliances, such as (indeede) deserved a far more private place in my poore opinion. But in my descending downe, mee thought you gave over that amorous familiaritie, and I found you seated as I left you. Now trust mee Pyrrhus, answered Nicostratus, Thy tongue and wit have very strangely wandred, both from reason and all reall apprehension: because we never stirred from hence, since thou didst climbe up into the Tree, neither mooved otherwise, then as now thou seest us. Alas my Lord (saide Pyrrhus) I humbly crave pardon for my presumption, in reprooving you for medling with your owne: which shal make me hereafter better advised, in any thing what soever I heare or see.
Mervaile and amazement, encreased in Nicostratus far greater then before, hearing him to avouch still so constantly what he had seene, no contradiction being able to alter him, which made him rashly sweare and say. I will see my selfe, whether this Peare-tree bee enchanted, or no: and such wonders to be seene when a man is up in it, as thou wouldst have us to beleeve. And being mounted up so hy, that they were safe from his sodaine comming on them, Lydia had soone forgotten her sicknes, and the promised kisse cost her above twenty more, beside verie kinde and hearty embraces, as lovingly respected and entertained by Pyrrhus. Which Nicostratus beholding aloft in the tree; cryed out to her, saying. Wicked woman, What doest thou meane? And thou villain Pyrrhus, Darst thou abuse thy Lord, who hath reposed so much trust in thee? So, descending in haste downe againe, yet crying so to them still: Lydia replyed, Alas my Lord, Why do you raile and rave in such sort? So, he( found her seated as before, and Pyrrhus waiting with dutiful reverence, even as when he climbed up the Tree: but yet he thought his sight not deceyved, for all their demure and formall behaviour, which made him walke up and downe, extreamely fuming and fretting unto himselfe, and which in some milder manner to qualifie, Pyrrhus spake thus to him.
I deny not (my good Lord) but freely confesse, that even as your selfe, so I, being above in the Tree, had my sight most falsely deluded: which is so apparantly confirmed by you, and in the same sort, as there needeth no doubt of both our beguiling; in one and the same suspitious nature. In which case to be the more assuredly resolved, nothing can be questioned, but whether your beleefe do so farre misleade you, as to thinke, that my Ladie (who hath alwayes bene most wise, loyall, and vertuous,) would so shamefullie wrong you: yea, and to performe it before your face, wherein I dare gadge my life to the contrary. Concerning my selfe, it is not fit for mee, to argue or contest in mine owne commendation: you that have ever knowne the sincerity of my service, are best able to speake in my behalfe: and rather wold I be drawne in peeces with foure wilde horses, then bee such an injurious slave to my Lord and Master.
Now then, it can be no otherwise, but we must needs rest certainely perswaded, that the guile and offence of this false appearance, was occasioned by thee onely. For all the world could not make me otherwise beleeve, but that I saw you kisse and most kindely imbrace my Lady: if your owne eyes had not credited the like behaviour in me to her, of which sinne, I never conceived so much as a thought. The Lady (on the other side) seeming to be very angerly incensed, starting faintly up on her feet, yet supporting her selfe by the tree, said. It appeareth Sir, that you have entertained a goodly opinion of me, as, if I were so lewde and lasciviously disposed, or addicted to the very least desire of wantonnesse: that I would bee so forgetfull of mine owne honour, as to adventure it in your sight, and with a servant of my house? Oh Sir, such women as are so familiarly affected, need learne no wit of men in amourous matters; their private Chambers shall be better trusted, then an open blabing and tell-tale Garden.
Nicostratus, who verily beleeved what they had both said, and that neither of them would adventure such familiarity before his face: would talke no more of the matter, but rather studyed of the rarity of such a miracle, not seene, but in the height of the tree, and changing againe up on the descent. But Lydia, containing still her collourable kinde of impatience, and angerly frowning upon Nicostratus, stearnely saide. If I may have my will, this villanous and deceiving tree, shall never more shame me, or any other woman: and therefore Pyrrhus, runne for an Axe, and by felling it to the ground, in an instant, revenge both thy wrong and mine. Doest not thou serve a worthy Lord? And have not I a wise Husband, who, without any consideration, will suffer the eye of his understanding to be so dazeled, with a foolish imagination beyond all possibility? For, although his eyes did apprehend such a folly, and it seemed to be a truth indeed: yet, in the depth of setled judgement, all the world should not perswade him, that it was so.
Pyrrhus had quickely brought the Axe, and hewing downe the tree, so soone as the Lady saw it fall; turning her selfe to Nicostratus, she said. Now that I have seene mine honour and honesties enemy laid along; mine anger is past, and Husband, I freely pardon you: intreating you heartily henceforward, not to presume or imagine, that my love eyther is, or can bee altred from you.
Thus the mocked and derided Nicostratus, returned in againe with his Lady and Pyrrhus; where perhaps (although the Peare-tree was cut downe) they could find as cunning meanes to over-reach him.[ Hide Ninth Novell ]
Now there remained none but the King himselfe, last of all to recount his Novell; who, after hee heard the Ladies complaints indifferently pacified, for the rash felling downe of such a precious Peare-tree; thus he began. Faire Ladies, it is a case more then manifest, that every King, who will be accounted just and upright: should first of all, and rather then any other, observe those Lawes which he himselfe hath made; otherwise he ought to be reputed as a servant, worthy of punishment, and no King. Into which fault and reprehension, I your King, shall well neere be constrained to fall; for yesterday I enacted a Law, upon the forme of our discoursing, with full intent, that this day I would not use any part of my priviledge; but being subject (as you all are) to the same Law, I should speake of that argument, which already you have done.
Wherein, you have not onely performed more then I could wish, upon a subject so sutable to my minde: but in every Novell, such variety of excellent matter, such singular illustrations, and delicate eloquence hath flowne from you all; as I am utterly unable to invent any thing (notwithstanding the most curious search of my braine) apt or fit for the purpose, to paragon the meanest of them already related. And therefore seeing I must needs sinne in the Law established by my selfe; I tender my submission, as worthy of punishment, or what amends else you please to enjoyne mee. Now, as returned to my wonted priviledge, I say, that the Novell recounted by Madame Eliza, of the Fryar Godfather and his Gossip Agnesia, as also the sottishnesse of the Senese her Husband, hath wrought in me (worthy Ladies) to such effect; as, forbearing to speake any more of these wily prancks, which witty wives exercise on their simple Husbands; I am to tell you a pretty short Tale; which, though there is matter enough in it, not worthy the crediting, yet partly it will bee pleasing to heare.
Sometime there lived in Sienna two popular men; the one being named Tingoccio Mini, and the other Meucio de Tura; Men simple, and of no understanding, both of them dwelling in Porta Salaia. These two men lived in such familiar conversation together, and expressed such cordiall affection each to other, as they seldome walked asunder; but (as honest men use to doe) frequented Churches and Sermons, oftentimes hearing, both what miseries and beatitudes were in the world to come, according to the merits of their soules that were departed out of this life, and found their equall repaiment in the other. The manifold repetition of these matters, made them very earnestly desirous to know, by what meanes they might have tydings from thence, for their further confirmation. And finding all their endeavours utterly frustrated, they made a solemne vow and promise (each to other under oath) that hee which first dyed of them two, should returne backe againe (so soone as possibly he could) to the other remaining alive, and tell him such tydings as hee desired to heare.
After the promise was thus faithfully made, and they still keeping company, as they were wont to doe: It fortuned, that Tingoccio became Gossip to one, named Ambrosio Anselmino, dwelling in Camporegglo, who by his wife, called Monna Mita, had a sweet and lovely Sonne. Tingoccio often resorting thither, and consorted with his companion Meucio; the she-Gossip, being a woman worthy the loving, faire and comely of her person. Tingoccio, notwithstanding the Gossipship betweene them, had more then a moneths minde to his Godchilds Mother. Meucio also fell sicke of the same disease, because shee seemed Fleasing in his eye, and Tingoccio gave he no meane commendations; yet, carefully hey concealed their love to themselves, but not for one and the same occasion. Because Tingoccio kept it closely from Meucio, lest he should hold it disgracefull in him, to beare amourous affection to his Gossip, and thought it unfitting to bee knowne. But Meucio had no such meaning, for hee knew well enough that Tingoccio loved her, and therefore conceived in his minde, that if he discovered any such matter to him: He will (quoth he) be jealous of me, and being her Gossip (which admitteth his conference with her when himselfe pleaseth;) he may easily make her to distaste me, and therefore I must rest contented as I am.
Their love continuing on still in this kinde, Tingoccio prooved so fortunate in the businesse, that having better meanes then his companion, and more prevayring courses, when, where, and how to Court his Mistresse, which seemed to forward him effectually. All which Meucio plainely perceived, and though it was tedious and wearisome to him, yet hoping to finde some successe at length: he would not take notice of any thing, as fearing to infringe the amity betweene him and Tingoccio, and so his hope to be quite supplanted. Thus the one triumphing in his loves happinesse, and the other hoping for his felicity to come; a lingering sickenesse seazed on Tingoccio, which brought him to so low a condition, as at the length he dyed.
About some three or foure nights after, Meucio being fast asleepe in his bed, the ghoste of Tingoccio appeared to him, and called so loude that Meucio awaking, demanded who called him? I am thy friend Tingoccio, replied the ghoste, who according to my former promise made, am come again in vision to thee, to tell thee tidings out of the nether world. Meucio was a while somewhat amazed: but, recollecting his more manly spirits together, boldly he said. My brother and friend, thou art heartily welcome: but I thought thou hadst beene utterly lost. Those things (quoth Tingoccio) are lost, which cannot be recovered againe, and if I were lost, how could I then be heere with thee? Alas Tingoccio, replyed Meucio, my meaning is not so: but I would be resolved, whether thou art among the damned soules, in the painefull fire of hell torments, or no? No (quoth Tingoccio) I am not sent thither, but for divers sinnes by mee committed I am to suffer very great and grievous paines. Then Meucio demaunded particularly, the punishments inflicted there, for the severall sinnes committed heere: Wherein Tingoccio fully resolved him. And upon further question, what hee would have to be done for him here, made answere, That Meucio should cause Masses, Prayers and Almes-deeds to be performed for him, which (he said) were very helpefull to the soules abiding there, and Meucio promised to see them done.
As the ghost was offering to depart, Meucio remembred Tingoccioes Gossip Monna Mita, and raysing himselfe higher upon his pillowe, said. My memorie informeth me friend Tingoccio, your kinde Gossip Monna Mita, with whom (when you remained in this life) I knew you to be very familiar: let me intreat you then to tell me, what punishment is inflicted on you there, for that wanton sinne committed heere? Oh Brother Meucio, answered Tingoccio, so soone as my soule was landed there, one came immediately to me, who seemed to know all mine offences readily by heart, and forthwith commanded, that I should depart thence into a certaine place, where I must weepe for my sinnes in very grievous paines. There I found more of my companions, condemned to the same punishment as I was, and being among them, I called to minde some wanton dalliances, which had passed betweene my Gossip and me, and expecting therefore farre greater afflictions, then as yet I felt (although I was in a huge fire, and exceedingly hot) yet with conceite of feare, I quaked and trembled wondrously.
One of my other Consorts being by me, and perceiving in what an extreame agony I was; presently said unto me. My friend, what hast thou done more, then any of us here condemned with thee, that thou tremblest and quakest, being in so hot a fire? Oh my friend (quoth I) I am in feare of a greater judgement then this, for a grievous offence by mee heretofore committed while I lived. Then hee demaunded of mee what offence it was, whereto thus I answered. It was my chance in the other world, to be Godfather at a childs Christning, and afterward I grew so affectionate to the childs mother, as (indeed) I kissed her twice or thrise. My companyon laughing at me in mocking manner, replyed thus. Goe like an Asse as thou art, and be no more afraid hereafter, for here is no punishment inflicted, in any kinde whatsoever, for such offences of frailty committed, especially with Gossips, as I my selfe can witnesse.
Now day drew on, and the Cockes began to crow, a dreadfull hearing to walking spirits, when Tingoccio said to Meucio. Farewell my friendly companion, for I may tarry no longer with thee, and instantly hee vanished away. Meucio having heard this confession of his friend, and verily beleeving it for a truth, that no punishment was to be inflicted in the future world, for offences of frailty in this life, and chiefly with Gossips: began to condemne his owne folly, having bin a Gossip to many wives, yet modesty restrained him from such familiar offending. And therefore being sorry for this grosse ignorance, hee made a vowe to be wiser hereafter. And if Fryar Reynard had been acquainted with this kind of shrift (as doubtlesse he was, though his Gossip Agnesia knew it not) he needed no such Syllogismes, as he put in practise, when he converted her to his lustfull knavery, in the comparison of kinred by him moved, concerning her husband, the childe and himselfe. But, these are the best fruits of such Fryerly Confessions, to compasse the issue of their inordinate appetites; yet clouded with the cloake of Religion, which hath beene the overthrow of too many.
By this time the gentle blast of Zephirus began to blow, because the Sunne grew neere his setting, wherewith the King concluded his Novell, and none remaining more to be thus imployed: taking the Crowne from off his owne head, he placed it on Madame Laurettaes, saying, Madame, I Crowne you with your owne Crowne, as Queene of our Company. You shall henceforth command as Lady and Mistresse, in such occasions as shall be to your liking, and for the contentment of us all; With which words he set him downe. And Madame Lauretta being now created Queene, shee caused the Master of the houshold to bee called, to whom she gave command, that the Tables should be prepared n the pleasant vally, but at a more convenient houre, then formerly had beene, because they might (with better ease) returne backe to the Pallace. Then shee tooke order likewise, for all such other necessary matters, as should bee required in the time of f Regiment: and then turning her selfe to the whole Company, she began in this manner.
It was the Will of Dioneus yesternight, that our discourses for this day, should concerne the deceits of wives to their Husbands. And were it not to avoyde taxation, of a spleenitive desire to be revenged, like the dog being bitten, biteth againe: I could command our to morrows conference, to touch mens treacheries towards their wives. But because I am free from any such fiery humor, let it be your generall consideration, to speake of such queint beguylings, as have heretofore past, either of the woman to the man, the man to the woman, or of one man to another: and I am of opinion, that they will yeeld us no lesse delight, then those related (this day) have done. When she had thus spoken, she rose; granting them all liberty, to goe recreate themselves untill Supper time.
The Ladies being thus at their owne disposing, some of them bared their legges and feete, to wash them in the coole current. Others, not so minded, walked on the greene grasse, and under the goodly spread: trees. Dioneus and Madame Fiammetta, they sate singing together, the love-warre between Arcit and Palemon. And thus with diversity of disports, in choice delight and much contentment, all were imployed, till Supper drew neere. When the houre re come, and the Tables covered by the Ponds side: we need not question their dyet and dainties, infinite Birds sweetly singing about them, as no musicke in the world could be more pleasing; beside calme windes, fanning their faces from the neighbouring hilles (free from flyes, or the least annoyance) made a delicate addition to their pleasure.
No sooner were the Tables withdrawne, and all risen: but they fetcht a few turnings about the vally, because the Sunne was not (as yet) quite set. Then in the coole evening, according to the Queenes appointment: in a soft and gentle pace, they walked homeward: devising on a thousand occasions, as well those which the dayes discourses had yeelded, as others of their owne inventing beside. It was almost darke night, before they arrived at the Pallace; where, with variety of choice Wines, and abounding plenty of rare Banquetting, they out wore the little toile and wearinesse, which the long walke had charged them withall. Afterward, according to their wonted order, the Instruments being brought and played on, they fell to dancing about the faire Fountaine; Tindaro intruding (now and then) the sound of his Bagpipe, to make the musicke seeme more melodious. But in the end, the Queene commanded Madame Philomena to sing; whereupon the Instruments being tuned fit for the purpose, thus she began.
Wearisome is my life to me,
Because I cannot once againe returne;
Unto the place which made me first to mourne.
Nothing I know, yet feele a powerfull fire,
Burning within my brest,
Through deepe desire;
To be once more where first I felt unrest,
Which cannot be exprest.
O my sole good! O my best happinesse!
Why am I thus restrainde?
Is there no comfort in this wretchednesse?
Then let me live content, to be thus painde.
Wearisome is my life to me, etc,
I cannot tell what was that rare delight,
Which first enflamde my soule,
And gave command in spight,
That I should find no ease by day or night,
But still live in controule.
I see, I heare, and feele a kinde of blisse,
Yet find no forme at all:
Other in their desire, feele blessednesse,
But I have none, nor thinke I ever shall.
Wearisome is my life to me, etc.
Tell me, if I may hope in following dayes,
To have but one poore sight,
Of those bright Sunny rayes,
Dazeling my sence, did overecome me quite,
Bequeath'd to wandring wayes.
If I be poasted off, and may not prove,
To have the smallest grace:
Or but to know, that this proceeds from love,
Why should I live despisde in every place?
Wearisome is my life to me, etc.
Me thinkes milde favour whispers in mine eare,
And bids me not despaire;
There will a time appeare
To quell and quite confound consuming care,
And joy surmount proud feare.
In hope that gracious time will come at length,
To cheare my long dismay:
My spirits reassume your former strength,
And never dread to see that joyfull day.
Wearisome is my life to me,
Because I cannot once againe returne;
Unto the place, which made me first to mourne.
This Song gave occasion to the whole Company, to imagine, that some new and pleasing apprehension of Love, constrained Madame Philomena to sing in this manner. And because (by the discourse thereof) it plainely appeared, that shee had felt more then shee saw, shee was so much the more happy, and the like was wished by all the rest. Wherefore, after the Song was ended; the Queene remembring, that the next day following was Friday, turning her selfe graciously to them all, thus she spake.
You know noble Ladies, and you likewise most noble Gentlemen, that to morrow is the day consecrated to the Passion of our blessed Lord and Saviour, which (if you have not forgotten it, as easily you cannot) we devoutly celebrated, Madame Neiphila being then Queene, ceasing from all our pleasant discoursing, as we did the like on the Saturday following, sanctifiing the sacred Sabboth, in due regard of it selfe. Wherefore, being desirous to imitate precedent good example, which in worthy manner shee began to us all: I hold it very decent and necessary, that we should abstaine to morrow, and the day ensuing, from recounting any of our pleasant Novels, reducing to our memories, what was done (as on those dayes) for the salvation of our soules. This holy and Religious motion made by the Queene, was commendably allowed by all the assembly, and therefore, humbly taking their leave of her, and an indifferent part of the night being already spent; severally they betooke themselves to their Chambers.[ Hide Tenth Novell ]