Whereon All The Discourses, Passe Under The Rule And Government, Of The Honourable Ladie Lauretta.
Earely on the Sonday Morning, Aurora shewing her selfe bright and lovely; the Sunnes Golden beames beganne to appeare, on the toppes of the neere adjoyning Mountaines; so, that Hearbes, Plants, Trees, and all things else, were verie evidently to be discerned.
When midday, and the heate thereof was well over-past, so that the aire seemed mild and temperate: according as the Queene had commanded; they were all seated againe about the Fountaine, with intent to prosecute their former pastime. And then Madame Neiphila, by the charge imposed on her, as first speaker for this day, beganne as followeth.[Hide Induction]
Seeing is my fortune, Gracious ladies, that I must give beginning to this dayes discoursing, by some such Novel which I thinke expedient; as duty bindeth me, I am therewith well contented. And because the deceits of Women to men, have beene at large and liberally related; I will tell you a subtile tricke of a man to a Woman. Not that I blame him for the deede, or thinke the deceyte not well fitted to the woman: but I speake it in a contrarie nature, as commending the man, and condemning the woman very justly, as also to shew, how men can as well beguile those crafty companions, which least beleeve any such cunning in them, as they that stand most on their artificiall skill.
Howbeit, to speake more properly, the matter by me to be reported, deserveth not the reproachfull title of deceite, but rather of a recompence duly returned: because women ought to be chaste and honest, and to preserve their honour as their lives, without yeelding to the contamination thereof, for any occasion whatsoever. And yet neverthelesse (in regard of our frailty) many times we proove not so constant as we should be: yet I am of opinion, that she which selleth her honestie for money, deserveth justly to be burned. Whereas on the contrary, she that falleth into the offence, onely through intire affection (the powerfull lawes of Love beeing above all resistance) in equity meriteth pardon, especially of a Judge not over-rigorous: as not long since wee heard from Philostratus, in revealing what hapned to Madam Phillippa de Prato, upon the dangerous Edict.
Understand then, my most worthy Auditors, that there lived sometime in Millaine an Almaigne Soldiour, named Gulfardo, of commendable carriage in his person, and very faithfull to such as he served, a matter not common among the Almaignes. And because he made just repayment, to every one which lent him monies; he grew to such especiall credit, and was so familiar with the very best Marchants; as (manie times) he could not be so ready to borrow, as they were willing alwaies to lend him. He thus continuing in the Cittie of Millaine, fastened his affection on a verie beautifull Gentlewoman, named Mistresse Ambrosia, Wife unto a rich Merchant, who was called Signior Gasparuolo Sagastraccio, who had good knowledge of him, and respectively used him. Loving this Gentlewoman with great discretion, without the least apprehension of her husband: he sent upon a day to entreate conference with her, for enjoying the fruition of her love, and she should find him ready to fulfill whatsoever she pleased to command him, as, at any time he would make good his promise.
The Gentlewoman, after divers of these private solicitings, resolutely answered, that she was as ready to fulfill the request of Gulfardo, provided, that two especiall considerations might ensue thereon. First, the faithfull concealing thereof from any person living. Next, because she knew him to be rich, and she had occasion to use two hundred Crowns, about businesse of important consequence: he should freely bestow so many on her, and (ever after) she was to be commanded by him. Gulfardo perceiving the covetousnesse of this woman, who (notwithstanding his doting affection) he thought to be intirely honest to her Husband: became so deepely offended at her vile answere, that his fervent love converted into as earnest loathing her; determining constantlie to deceive her, and to make her avaritious motion, the only means wherby to effect it.
He sent her word, that he was willing to performe her request, or any farre greater matter for her: in which respect, he onely desired for to know, when she would be pleased to have him come see her, and to receive the money of him? No creature hee acquainted with his setled purpose, but onely a deere friend and kinde companion, who alwayes used to keepe him company, in the neerest occasions that concerned him. The Gentlewoman, or rather most disloyall wife, uppon this answer sent her, was extraordinarily jocond and contented, returning him a secret Letter, wherein she signified: that Gasparuolo her husband, had important affaires which called him to Geneway: but he should understand of his departure, and then (with safety) he might come see her, as also his bringing of the Crownes.
In the meane while, Gulfardo having determined what he would do, watched a convenient time, when he went unto Gasparuolo, and sayde: Sir, I have some businesse of maine importance, and shall neede to use but two hundred Crownes onely: I desire you to lend me so many Crownes, upon such profite as you were wont to take of mee, at other times when I have made use of you, and I shall not faile you at my day.
Gasparuolo was well contented with the motion, and made no more adoe, but counted downe the Crownes: departing thence (within a few dayes after) for Geneway, according to his Wives former message; she giving Gulfardo also intelligence of his absence, that now (with safety) hee might come see her, and bring the two hundred Crownes with him.
Gulfardo, taking his friend in his company, went to visit Mistresse Ambrosia, whom he found in expectation of his arrivall, and the first thing he did, he counted downe the two hundred Crownes; and delivering them to her in the presence of his friend, saide: Mistresse Ambrosia, receive these two hundred Crownes, which I desire you to pay unto your Husband on my behalfe, when he is returned from Geneway. Ambrosia, receyved the two hundred Crownes, not regarding wherefore Gulfardo used these words: because shee verily beleeved, that hee spake in such manner, because his friend should take no notice, of his giving them to her, upon any covenant passed betweene them; whereuppon, she sayde. Sir, I will pay them to my Husband for you; and cause him to give you a sufficient discharge: but first I will count them over my selfe, to see whether the summe be just, or no. And having drawne them over upon the Table, the summe containing truly two hundred Crownes (wherewith she was most highly contented) she lockt them safe uppe in her Cuppeboord, and Gulfardoes Friend being gone (as formerly it was compacted betweene them) shee came to converse more familiarly with him, having provided a banquet for him. What passed between them afterward, both then, and oftentimes beside, before her Husbande returned home, is a matter out of y element, and rather requires my ignoance then knowledge.
When Gasparuolo was come from Genway, Gulfardo observing a convenient time, when he was sitting at the doore with his Wife; tooke his Friend with him, and comming to Gasparuolo, said. Worthy Sir, the two hundred Crownes which you lent me before your journy to Geneway, in regard they could not serve my turne, to compasse the businesse for which I borrowed them: within a day or two after, in the presence of this Gentle man my friend, I made repayment of them to your Wife, and therefore I pray you crosse me out of your booke.
Gasparuolo turning to his Wife, demanded; Whether it was so, or no? She beholding the witnesse standing by, who was also present at her receyving them: durst not make deniall, but thus answered. Indeede Husband, I received two hundred Crownes of the Gentleman, and never remembred, to acquaint you therewith since your comming home: but hereafter I will be made no more your receiver, except I carried a quicker memory. Then saide Gasparuolo: Signior Gulfardo, I finde you alwaies a most honest Gentleman, and will be readie at any time, to doe you the like, or a farre greater kindnesse; depart at your pleasure, and feare not the crossing of my Booke. So Gulfardo went away merily contented, and Ambrosia was served as she justly merited; she paying the price of her owne leudnesse to her Husband, which she had a more covetous intent to keepe, questionlesse, not caring how many like lustfull matches shee coulde make, to be so liberally rewarded, if this had succeeded to her minde: whereas he shewed himselfe wise and discreete, in paying nothing for his pleasure, and requiting a covetous queane in her kinde.[ Hide First Novell ]
Both the Gentlemen and Ladies gave equall commendations, of Gulfardoes queint beguiling the Millaine Gentle-woman Ambrosia,and wishing all other (of her minde) might alwaies be so served. Then the Queene, smiling on Pamphilus, commaunded him to follow next: whereupon, thus he began.
I can tell you (faire Ladies) a short Novell, against such as are continually offensive to us, yet we being no way able to offend him; at least, in the same manner as they do injurie us. And for your better understanding what and who they be, they are our lusty Priests, who advance their Standard, and make their publike predications against our wives, winning such advantage over them, that they can pardon them both of the sinne and punnishment, whensoever they are once subjected unto theyr perswasions, even as if they brought the Soldane bound and captived, from Alexandria to Avignon. Which imperious power, we (poore soules) cannot exercise on them, considering, we have neither heart nor courage, to do our devoire in just revenge on their Mothers, Sisters, Daughters, and Friends, with the like spirit as they rise in armes against our wives. And therefore, I meane to tell you a tale of a Country mans wife, more to make you laugh at the conclusion thereof; then for any singularity of words or matter: yet this benefite you may gaine thereby, of an apparant proofe, that such Sinamon, amorous and perswading Priests, are not alwayes to be credited on their words or promises.
Let me then tell you, that at Varlungo, which you know to bee not farre distant hence, there dwelt an youthfull Priest, lustie, gallant, and proper of person (especially for Womens service) commonly called by the name of sweet Sir Simon. Now, albeit he was a man of slender reading, yet notwithstanding, he had store of Latine sentences by heart; some true, but twice so many maimed and false, Saint-like shewes, holy speeches, and ghostly admonitions, which hee would preach under an Oake in the fields, when he had congregated his Parishioners together. When women lay in childebed, hee was their daily comfortable visitant, and would man them from their houses, when they had any occasion to walke abroad: carrying alwaies a bottle of holy water about him, wherewith he would sprinkle them by the way, peeces of halowed Candles, and Chrisome Cakes, which pleased women extraordinarily, and all the Country affoorded not such another frolicke Priest, as this our nimble and active sweet Sir Simon.
Among many other of his feminine Parishioners, all of them being hansome and comely Women: yet there was one more pleasing in his wanton eye, then any of the rest, named Monna Belcolore, and wife to a plaine mecanicke man, called Bentivegna del Mazzo. And, to speake uprightly, few Countrey Villages yeelded a Woman, more fresh and lovely of complexion, although not admirable for beauty, yet sweete Sir Simon thoght her a Saint, and faine would be offering at her shrine. Divers prety pleasing qualities she had, as sounding the Cymball, playing artificially on the Timbrill, and singing thereto as it had beene a Nightingale, dancing also so dexteriously, as happy was the man that could dance in her company. All which so enflamed sweet Sir Simon, that he lost his wonted sprightly behaviour, walked sullen, sad and melancholly, as if he had melted all his mettall, because hee could hardly have a sight of her. But on the Sonday morning, when hee heard or knew that she was in the Church, hee would tickle it with a Kyrie and a Sancsingular skill in singing, when it had beene as good to heare an Asse bray. Whereas on the contrary, when she came not to Church Masse, and all else were quicklie shaken uppe, as if his devotion waited onely on her presence. Yet he was so cunning in the carriage of his amorous businesse, both for her credite and his owne; as Bentivegna her husband could not perceive it, or any neighbor so much as suspect it.
But, to compaise more familiar acquaintance with Belcolore, hee sent her sundry gifts and presents, day by day, as sometime a bunch of dainty greene Garlicke, whereof he had plenty growing in his Garden, which he manured with his owne hands, and better then all the countrey yeelded; otherwhiles a small basket of Pease or Benes, and Onyons or Scallions, as the season served. But when he could come in place where she was; then he darted amourous wincks and glances at her, with becks, nods, and blushes, Loves private Ambassadours, which shee (being but countrey-bred) seeming by outward appearance, not to see, retorted disdainefully, and forthwith would absent her selfe, so that sweet Sir Simon laboured still in vaine, and could not compasse what he coveted.
It came to passe within a while after, that on a time, (about high noone) Sir Simon being walking abroad, chanced to meete with Bentivegna, driving an Asse before him, laden with divers commodities, and demaunding of him, whither he went, Bentivegna, thus answered. In troth Sir Simon, I am going to the City, about some especiall businesse of mine owne, and I carry these things to Signior Bonacorci da Ginestreto, because he should helpe me before the Judge, when I shall be called in question concerning my patrimony. Sir Simon looking merily on him, said. Thou doest well Bentivegna, to make a friend sure before thou need him; goe, take my blessing with thee, and returne againe with good successe. But if thou meet with Laguccio, or Naldino, forget not to tell them, that they must bring me my shooe-tyes before Sunday. Bentivegna said, hee would discharge his errand, and so parted from him, driving his Asse on towards Florence.
Now began Sir Simon to shrug, and scratch his head, thinking this to be a fit convenient time, for him to goe visite Belcolore, and to make triall of his fortune: wherefore, setting aside all other businesse, he stayed no where till he came to the house, whereinto being entred, he saide: All happinesse be to them that dwell heere. Belcolore being then above in the Chamber, when she heard his tongue, replyed. Sweet Sir Simon! you are heartely welcome, whether are you walking, if the question may bee demaunded? Beleeve me dainty Ducke, answered Sir Simon, I am come to sit a while with thee, because I met thy Husband going to the Citie. By this time, Belcolore was descended downe the stayres, and having once againe given welcome to Sir Simon, she sate downe by him, cleansing of Colewort seeds from such other course chaffe, which her Husband had prepared before his departure.
Sir Simon hugging her in his armes, and fetching a vehement sigh, said. My Belcolore, how long shall I pine and languish for thy love? How now Sir Simon? answered she, is this behaviour fitting for an holy man? Holy-men Belcolore, (quoth Sir Simon) are made of the same matter as others be, they have the same affections, and therefore subject to their infirmities. Santa Maria, answered Belcolore, Dare Priests doe such things as you talke of? Yes Belcolore (quoth he) and much better then other men can, because they are made for the very best businesse, in which regard they are restrained from marriage. True (quoth Belcolore) but much more from medling with other mens wives. Touch not that Text Belcolore, replyed Sir Simon, it is somewhat above your capacity: talke of that I come for, namely thy love, my Ducke, and my Dove, Sir Simon is thine, I pray thee be mine.
Belcolore observing his smirking behaviour, his proper person, pretty talke, and queint insinuating; felt a motion to female frailty, which yet she would withstand so long as she could, and not be over-hasty in her yeelding. Sir Simon promiseth her a new paire of shoes, garters, ribbands, girdles, or what else she would request. Sir Simon (quoth she) all these things which you talke of, are fit for women: but if your love to mee be such as you make choice of, fulfill what I will motion to you, and then (perhaps) I shall tell you more. Sir Simons heate made him hasty to promise whatsoever she would desire; whereupon, thus shee replyed. On Saturday, said she, I must goe to Florence, to carry home such yarne as was sent me to spinne, and to amend my spinning wheele: if you will lend mee ten Florines, wherewith I know you are alwayes furnished, I shall redeeme from the Usurer my best peticote, and my wedding gowne (both well neere lost for lacke of repaiment) without which I cannot be seene at Church, or in any other good place else, and then afterward other matters may be accomplished.
Alas sweete Belcolore answered Sir Simon, I never beare any such sum about me, for men of our profession, doe seldome carry any money at all: but beleeve me on my word, before Saturday come, I will not faile to bring them hither. Oh Sir (quoth Belcolore) you men are quicke promisers, but slow performers. Doe you thinke to use me, as poore Billezza was, who trusted to as faire words, and found her selfe deceived? Now Sir Simon, her example in being made scandall to the world, is a sufficient warning for me: if you be not so provided, goe and make use of your friend, for I am not otherwise to be moved. Nay Belcolore (quoth he) I hope you will not serve me so, but my word shall be of better worth with you. Consider the conveniency of time, wee being so privately here alone: whereas at my returning hither againe, some hinderance may thwart me, and the like opportunity be never obtained. Sir, she) you have heard my resolution; if you will fetche the Florines, doe; otherwise, walke about your businesse, for I am a woman of my word.
Sir Simon perceiving, that she would not trust him upon bare words, nor any thing was to be done, without Salvum me fac, whereas his meaning was Sine custodia; thus answered. Well Belcolove, seeing you dare not credit my bringing the tenne Florines, according to my promised day: I will leave you a good pawne, my very best Cloake, lyned quite thorough with rich Silke, and made up in the choysest manner.
Belcolore looking on the Cloake, said. How much may this Cloake bee worth? How much? quoth Sir Simon, upon my word Belcolore, it is of a right fine Flanders Serdge, and not above eight dayes since, I bought it thus (ready made) of Lotto the Fripperer, and payed for it sixe and twenty Florines, a pledge then sufficient for your ten. Is it possible, said shee, that it should cost so much? Well, Sir Simon, deliver it me first, I will lay it up safe for you against Saturday, when if you fetch it not; I will redeeme mine owne things with it, and leave you to release it your selfe.
The Cloake is laid up by Belcolore, and Sir Simon so forward in his affection; that (in briefe) he enjoyed what hee came for; and departed afterward in his light tripping Cassocke, but yet thorow by-Lanes, and no much frequented places, smelling on a Nosegay, as if hee had beene at some wedding in the Countrey, and went thus lightly without his Cloake, for his better ease. As commonly after actions of evill, Repentance knocketh at the doore of Conscience, and urgeth a guilty remembrance, with some sence of sorrow: so was it now with sweet Sir Simon, who survayin over all his vailes of offering Candles, the validity of his yearely benefits, and all comming nothing neere the summe of (scarce halfe) sixe and twenty Florines; he began to repent his deed of darkenesse, although it was acted in the day-time, and considered with himselfe, by what honest (yet unsuspected meanes) hee might recover his Cloake againe, before it went to the Broaker, in redemption of Belcolores pawned apparrell, and yet to send her no Florines neither.
Having a cunning reaching wit, especially in matters for his owne advantage, and pretending to have a dinner at his lodging, for a few of some invited friends: he made use of a neighbours Boy, sending him to the house of Belcolore, with request of lending him her Stone Morter, to make Greenesawce in for his guests, because hee had meate required such sawce. Belcolore suspecting no treachery, sent him the Stone Morter with the Pestell, and about dinner time, when he knew Bentivegna to bee at home with his wife, by a spye which was set for the purpose; hee called the Clearke (usually attending on him) and said. Take this Morter and Pestell, beare them home to Belcolore, and tell her: Sir Simon sends them home with thankes, they having sufficiently served his turne, and desire her likewise, to send me my Cloake, which the Boy left as a pledge for better remembrance, and because she would not lend it without a pawne.
The Clearke comming to the house of Belcolore, found her sitting at dinner with her Husband, and delivering her the Pestell and Morter, performed the rest of Sir Simons message. Belcolore hearing the Cloake demaunded, stept up to make answere: But Bentivegna, seeming (by his lookes) to be much offended, roughly replyed. Why how now wife? Is not Sir Simon our especiall friend, and cannot he be pleasured without a pawne? I protest upon my word, I could find in my heart to smite thee for it. Rise quickely thou wert best, and send him backe his Cloake; with this warning hereafter, that whatsoever he will have, be it your poore Asse, or any thing else being ours, let him have it: and tell him (Master Clearke) he may command it. Belcolore rose grumbling from the Table, and fetching the Cloake forth of the Chest, which stood neere at hand in the same roome; shee delivered it to the Clearke, saying. Tell Sir Simon from me, and boldly say you heard me speake it: that I make a vow to my selfe, he shall never make use of my Morter hereafter, to beat any more of his sawcinesse in, let my Husband say whatsoever he will, I speake the word, and will performe it.
Away went the Clearke home with the Cloake, and told Sir Simon what she had said, whereto he replyed. If I must make use of her Morter no more; I will not trust her with the keeping of my Cloake, for feare it goe to gage indeed.
Bentivegna was a little displeased at his wives words, because hee thought she spake but in jest; albeit Belcolore was so angry with Sir Simon, that she would not speake to him till vintage time following. But then Sir Simon, what by sharpe threatenings, of her soule to be in danger of hell fire, continuing so long in hatred of a holy Priest, which words did not a little terrifie her; besides daily presents to her, of sweet new Wines, roasted Chesse-nuts, Figges and Almonds: all unkindnesse became converted to former familiarity; the garments were redeemed: he gave her Sonnets which she would sweetly sing to her Cimbale, and further friendship increased betweene her and sweet Sir Simon.[ Hide Second Novell ]
Pamphilus having ended his Novell, whereat the Ladies laughed exceedingly, so that very hardly they could give over. The Queene gave charge to Madame Eliza, that shee should next succeed in order; when, being scarcely able to refraine from smyling, thus she began.
I know not (Gracious Ladies) whether I can move you to as hearty laughter, with a briefe Novell of mine owne, as Pamphilus lately did with his: yet I dare assure you, that it is both true and pleasant, and I will relate it in the best manner I can.
In our owne Citie, which evermore hath contained all sorts of people, not long since there dwelt, a Painter, named Calandrino, a simple man; yet as much adicted to matters of novelty, as any man whatsoever could be. The most part of his time, he spent in the company of two other Painters, the one called Bruno, and the other Buffalmaco, men of very recreative spirits, and of indifferent good capacity, often resorting to the said Calandrino, because they tooke delight in his honest simplicity, and pleasant order of behaviour. At the same time likewise, there dwelt in Florence, a yong Gentleman of singular disposition, to every generous and witty conceite, as the world did not yeeld a more pleasant companion, he being named Maso del Saggio, who having heard somwhat of Calandrinos sillinesse: determined to jest with him in merry manner, and to suggest his longing humors after Novelties, with some conceit of extraordinary nature.
He happening (on a day) to meete him in the Church of Saint John, and seeing him seriously busied, in beholding the rare pictures, and the curious carved Tabernacle, which (not long before) was placed on the. high Altar in the said Church: considered with himselfe, that he had now fit place and opportunity, to effect what hee had long time desired. And having imparted his minde to a very intimate friend, how he intended to deale with simple Calandrino: they went both very neere him, where he sate all alone, and making shew as if they saw him not; began to consult between themselves, concerning the rare properties of precious stones; whereof Maso discoursed as exactly, as he had beene a most skilfull Lapidarie; to which conference of theirs, Calandrino lent an attentive eare, in regard it was matter of singular rarity.
Soone after, Calandrino started up, and perceiving by their loude speaking, that they talked of nothing which required secret Counsell: he went into their company (the onely thing which Maso desired) and holding on still the former Argument; Calandrino would needs request to know, in what place these precious stones were to be found, which had such excellent vertues in them? Maso made answere, that the most of them were to be had in Berlinzona, neere to the City of Bascha, which was in the Territory of a Countrey, called Bengodi, where the Vines were bound about with Sawcidges, a Goose was sold for a penny, and the Goslings freely given in to boote. There was also an high mountaine wholly made of Parmezane, grated Cheese, whereon dwelt people, who did nothing else but make Mocharones and Ravivolies, boyling them with broth of Capons, and afterward hurled them all about, to whosoever can or will catch them. Neere to this mountaine runneth a faire River, the whole streame being pure white Bastard, none such was ever sold for any money, and without one drop of water in it.
Now trust me Sir, (said Calandrino) that is an excellent Countrey to dwell in: but I pray you tell me Sir, what do they with the Capons after they have boyld them? The Baschanes (quoth Maso) eate them all. Have you Sir, said Calandrino, at any time beene in that Countrey? How? answered Maso, doe you demaund if have beene there? Yes man, above a thousand times, at the least. How farre Sir, I pray you (quoth Calandrino) is that worthy Countrey, from this our City? In troth, replyed Maso, the miles are hardly to be numbred, for the most part of them, we travell when we are nightly in our beddes, and if a man dreame right; he may be there upon a sudden.
Surely Sir, said Calandrino, it is further hence, then to Abruzzi? Yes questionlesse, replyed Maso; but, to a willing minde, no travell seemeth tedious.
Calandrino well noting, that Maso delivered all these speeches, with a stedfast countenance, no signe of smyling, or any gesture to urge the least mislike: he gave such credit to them, as to any matter of apparent and manifest truth, and upon this assured confidence, he said.
Beleeve me Sir, the journey is over-farre for mee to undertake, but if it were neerer; I could affoord to goe in your Company; onely to see how they make these Macherones, and to fill my belly with them.
But now wee are in talke Sir, I pray you pardon mee to aske, whether any such precious stones, as you spake off, are to be found in that Countrey, or no? Yes indeed, replyed Maso, there are two kinds of them to be found in those Territories, both being of very great vertue. One kind, are gritty stones, of Settignano, and of Montisca, by vertue of which places, when any Mill-stones or Grind-stones are to bee made, they knede the sand as they use to doe meale, and so make them of what bignesse they please. In which respect, they have a common saying there: that Nature maketh common stones, but Montisca Mill-stones. Such plenty are there of these Mill-stones, so slenderly here esteemed among us, as Emeralds are with them, whereof they have whole mountaines, farre greater then our Montemorello, which shine most gloriously at midnight. And how meanly soever we account of their Mill-stones; yet there they drill them, and enchase them in Rings, which afterward they send to the great Soldane, and have whatsoever they will demaund for them.
The other kinde is a most precious Stone indeede, which our best Lapidaries call the Helitropium, the vertue whereof is so admirable; as whosoever beareth it about him, so long as he keepeth it, it is impossible for any eye to discerne him, because he walketh meerely invisible. O Lord Sir (quoth Calandrino) those stones are of rare vertue indeede: but where else may a man finde that Helitropium? Whereto Maso thus answered: That Countrey onely doth not containe the Helitropium; for they be many times found upon our plaine of Mugnone. Of what bignesse Sir (quoth Calandrino) is the Stone, and what coulour? The Helitropium, answered Maso, is not alwayes of one quality, because some are bigge, and others lesse; but all are of one coulour, namely blacke.
Calandrino committing all these things to respective memory, and pretending to be called thence by some other especiall affaires; departed from Maso, concluding resolvedly with himselfe, to finde this precious stone, if possibly hee could: yet intending to doe nothing, untill hee had acquainted Bruno and Buffalmaco therewith, whom he loved dearly: he went in all hast to seeke them; because, (without any longer trifling the time) they three might bee the first men, that should find out this precious stone, spending almost the whole morning before they were all three met together. For they were painting at the Monastery of the Sisters of Faenza, where they had very serious imployment, and followed their businesse diligently: where having found them, and saluting them in such kinde manner, as continually he used to doe, thus he began.
Loving friends, if you were pleased to follow mine advise, wee three will quickely be the richest men in Florence; because, by information from a Gentleman (well deserving to be credited) on the Plaine of Mugnone: there is a precious stone to be found, which whosoever carrieth it about him, walketh invisible, and is not to be seene by any one. Let us three be the first men to goe and finde it, before any other heare thereof, and goe about it, and assure our selves that we shall finde it, for I know it (by discription) so soone as I see it. And when wee have it, who can hinder us from bearing it about us? Then will we goe to the Tables of our Bankers, or money Changers, which we see daily charged with plenty of gold and silver, where we may take so much as wee list, for they (nor any) are able to descrie us. So, (in short time) shall wee all be wealthy, never needing to drudge any more, or paint muddy walles, as hitherto we have done; and, as many of our poore profession are forced to doe.
Bruno and Buffalmaco hearing this, began to smile, and looking merily each on other, they seemed to wonder thereat, and greatly commended the counsell of Calandrino. Buffalmaco demaunding how the stone was named. Now it fortuned, that Calandrino (who had but a grosse and blockish memory) had quite forgot the name of the stone, and therefore said. What neede have wee of the name, when we know, and are assured of the stones vertue? Let us make no more adoe, but (setting aside all other businesse) goe seeke where it is to be found. Well my friend (answered Bruno) you say wee may finde it, but how, and by what meanes?
There are two sorts of them (quoth Calandrino) some bigge, others smaller, but all carry a blacke colour: therefore (in mine opinion) let us gather all such stones as are blacke, so shall we be sure to finde it among them, without any further losse of time.
Buffalmaco and Bruno, liked and allowed the counsell of Calandrino, which when they had (by severall commendations) given him assurance of, Bruno saide. I doe not thinke it a convenient time now, for us to go about so weighty a businesse: for the Sun is yet in the highest degree, and striketh such a heate on the plaine of Mugnone, as all the stones are extreamly dryed, and the very blackest will nowe seeme whitest. But in the morning, after the dew is falne, and before the Sunne shineth forth, every stone retaineth his true colour. Moreover, there be many Labourers now working on the plaine, about such businesse as they are severally assigned, who seeing us in so serious a serch: may imagine what we seeke for, and partake with us in the same inquisition, by which meanes they may chance to speed before us, and so wee may lose both our trot and amble. Wherefore, by my consent, if your opinion jumpe with mine, this is an enterprize onely to be perfourmed in an early morning, when the blacke stones are to be distinguisht from the white, and a Festivall day were the best of all other, for then there will be none to discover us.
Buffalmaco applauded the advice of Bruno, and Calandrino did no lesse, concluding all together; that Sunday morning (next ensuing) should be the time, and then they all three would go see the Stone. But Calandrino was verie earnest with them, that they shold not reveale it to any living body, because it was tolde him as an especiall secret: disclosing further to them, what hee had heard concerning the Countrey of Bengodi, maintaining (with solemn oaths and protestations) that every part thereof was true. Uppon this agreement, they parted from Calandrino who hardly enjoyed anie rest at all, either by night or day, so greedie he was to bee possessed of the stone. On the Sonday morning, hee called up his Companions before breake of day, and going forth at S. Galls Port, they stayed not, till they came to the plaine of Mugnone, where they searched all about to finde this strange stone.
Calandrino went stealing before the other two, and verilie perswaded himselfe, that he was borne to finde the Helitropium, and looking on every side about him, hee rejected all other Stones but the blacke, whereof first he filled his bosome, and afterwards, both his Pockets. Then he tooke off his large painting Apron, which he fastened with his girdle in the manner of a sacke, and that he filled full of stones likewise. Yet not so satisfied, he spred abroad his Cloake, which being also full of stones, hee bound it up carefully, for feare of loosing the very least of them. All which Buffalmaco and Bruno well observing (the day growing on, and hardly they could reach home by dinner time) according as merrily they had concluded, and pretending not to see Calandrino, albeit he was not farre from them: What is become of Calandrino? saide Buffalmaco. Bruno gazing strangely every where about him, as if hee were desirous to finde him, replyed. I saw him not long since, for then he was hard by before us; questionlesse, he hath given us the slippe, is privilie gone home to dinner, and making starke fooles of us, hath lefte us to picke up blacke stones, upon the parching plaines of Mugnone. Well (quoth Buffalmaco) this is but the tricke of an hollow-hearted friend, and not such as he protested himselfe to be, to us. Could any but wee have bin so sottish, to credit his frivolous perswasions, hoping to finde any stones of such vertue, and here on the fruitlesse plains of Mugnone? No, no, none but we would have beleeved him.
Calandrino (who was close by them) hearing these wordes, and seeing the whole manner of their wondering behaviour: became constantly perswaded, that hee had not onely found the precious stone; but also had some store of them about him, by reason he was so neere to them, and yet they could not see him, therefore he walked before them. Now was his joy beyond all compasse of expression, and being exceedingly proud of so happy an adventure: did not meane to speake one word to them, but (heavily laden as hee was) to steale home faire and softly before them, which indeede he did, leaving them to follow after, if they would. Bruno perceiving his intent, said to Buffalmaco: What remaineth now for us to doe? Why should not we go home, as well as hee? And reason too, replyed Bruno. It is in vaine to tarry any longer heere: but I solemnly protest, Calandrino shall no more make an Asse of me: and were I now as neere him, as not long since I was, I would give him such a remembrance on the heele with this Flint stone, as should sticke by him this moneth, to teach him a lesson for abusing his friends.
Hee threw the stone, and hit him shrewdly on the heele therewith; but all was one to Calandrino, whatsoever they saide, or did, as thus they still followed after him. And although the blow of the stone was painfull to him; yet he mended his pace so wel as he was able, in regard of beeing over-loaden with stones, and gave them not one word all the way, because he tooke himselfe to bee invisible, and utterly unseene of them. Buffalmaco taking uppe another Flintstone, which was indifferent heavie and sharp, said to Bruno. Seest thou this Flint? Casting it from him, he smote Calandrino just in the backe therewith, saying that Calandrino had bin so neere as I might have hit him on the backe with the stone. And thus all the way on the plaine of Mugnone, they did nothing else but pelt him with stones, even so farre as the Port of S. Gall, where they threwe downe what other stones they had gathered, meaning not to molest him any more, because they had done enough already.
There they stept before him unto the Port, and acquainted the Warders with the whole matter, who laughing heartily at the jest, the better to upholde it; would seeme not to see Calandrino in his passage by them, but suffered him to go on, sore wearied with his burthen, and sweating extreamly. Without resting himselfe in any place, he came home to his house, which was neere to the corner of the Milles, Fortune being so favourable to him in the course of this mockery, that as he passed along the Rivers side, and afterward through part of the City; he was neither met nor seen by any, in regard they were all in their houses at dinner.
Calandrino, every minute ready to sinke under his weightie burthen, entred into his owne house, where (by great ill luck) his wife, being a comely and very honest woman, and named Monna Trista, was standing aloft on the stayres head. She being somewhat angry for his so long absence, and seeing him come in grunting and groaning, frowningly said. I thought that the divell would never let thee come home, all the whole Citie have dined, and yet wee must remaine without our dinner. When Calandrino heard this, and perceived that he was not invisible to his Wife: full of rage and wroth, hee began to raile, saying. Ah thou wicked woman, where art thou? Thou hast utterly undone me: but (as I live) I will pay thee soundly for it. Up the staires he ascended into a small Parlour, where when he hadde spred all his burthen of stones on the floore: he ran to his wife, catching frer by the haire of the head, and throwing her at his feete; giving her so many spurns and cruel blowes, as shee was not able to moove either armes or legges, notwithstanding all her teares, and humble submission.
Now Buffalmaco and Bruno, after they had spent an indifferent while, with the Warders at the Port in laughter; in a faire and gentle pace, they followed Calandrino home to his house, and being come to the doore, they heard the harsh bickering betweene him and his Wife, and seeming as if they were but newly arrived, they called out alowd to him. Calandrino being in a sweate, stamping and raving still at his Wife: looking forth of the window, entreated them to ascend up to him, which they did, counterfetting greevous displeasure against him. Being come into the roome, which they saw all covered over with stones, his Wife sitting in a corner, all the haire (well-neere) torne off her head, her face broken and bleeding, and all her body cruelly beaten; on the other side, Calandrino standing unbraced and ungirded, strugling and wallowing, like a man quite out of breath: after a little pausing, Bruno thus spake.
Why how now Calandrino? What may the meaning of this matter be? What, art thou preparing for building, that thou hast provided such plenty of stones? How sitteth thy poore wife? How hast thou misused her? Are these the behaviours of a wise or honest man? Calandrino, over-spent with travalle, and carrying such an huge burthen of stones, as also the toylesome beating of his Wife, (but much more impatient and offended, for that high good Fortune, which he imagined to have lost:) could not collect his spirits together, to answer them one ready word, wherefore hee sate fretting like a mad man. Whereupon, Buffalmaco thus began to him. Calandrino, if thou be angry with any other, yet thou shouldest not have made such a mockery of us, as thou hast done: in leaving us (like a couple of coxcombes) to the plaine of Mugnone, whether thou leddest us with thee, to seeke a precious stone called Helitropium. And couldst thou steale home, never bidding us so much as farewell? How can we but take it in very evill part, that thou shouldest so abuse two honest neighbours? Well, assure thy selfe, this is the last time that ever thou shalt serve us so.
Calandrino (by this time) being somewhat better come to himselfe, with an humble protestation of courtesie, returned them this answer. Alas my good friends, be not you offended, the case is farre otherwise then you immagine. Poore unfortunate man that I am, I found the rare precious stone that you speake of: and marke me well, if I do not tell you the truth of all. When you asked one another (the first time) what was become of me; I was hard by you: at the most, within the distance of two yards length; and perceiving that you saw mee not, (being still so neere, and alwaies before you:) I went on, smiling to my selfe, to heare you brabble and rage against me.
So, proceeding on in his discourse, he recounted every accident as it hapned, both what they had saide and did unto him, concerning the severall blowes, with the two Flint-stones, the one hurting him greevously in the heele, and the other paining him as extreamly in the backe, with their speeches used then, and his laughter, notwithstanding hee felt the harme of them both, yet beeing proud that he did so invisibly beguile them. Nay more (quoth he) I cannot forbeare to tell you, that when I passed thorow the Port, I saw you standing with the Warders; yet, by vertue of that excellent Stone, undiscovered of you all. Beside, going along the streets, I met many of my Gossips, friends, and familiar acquaintance, such as used daylie to converse with me, and drinking together in every Tavern: yet not one of them spake to me, neyther used any courtesie or salutation; which (indeede) I did the more freely forgive them, because they were not able to see me.
In the end of all when I was come home into mine owne house, this divellish and accursed woman, being aloft uppon my stayres head, by much misfortune chanced to see me; in regard (as it is not unknowne to you) that women cause all things to lose their vertue. In which respect, I that could have stild my selfe the onely happy man in Florence, am now made most miserable. And therefore did I justly beate her, so long as she was able to stand against mee, and I know no reason to the contrary, why I should not yet teare her in a thousand peeces: for I may well curse the day of our mariage, to hinder and bereave me of such an invisible blessednesse.
Buffalmaco and Bruno hearing this, made shew of verie much mervailing thereat, and many times maintained what Calandrino had said; being well neere ready to burst with laughter; considering, how confidently he stood upon it, that he had found the wonderful stone, and lost it by his wives speaking onely to him. But when they saw him rise in fury once more, with intent to beat her againe: then they stept betweene them; affirming, That the woman had no way offended in this case, but rather he himself: who knowing that women cause all things to lose their vertue, had not therefore expresly commanded her, not to be seene in his presence all that day, untill he had made full proofe of the stones vertue. And questionles, the consideration of a matter so availeable and important, was quite taken from him, because such an especiall happinesse, should not belong to him only; but (in part) to his friends, whom he had acquainted therewith, drew them to the plaine with him in companie, where they tooke as much paines in serch of the stone, as possibly he did, or could; and yet (dishonestly) he would deceive them, and beare it away covetously, for his owne private benefit.
After many other, as wise and wholesome perswasions, which he constantly credited, because they spake them, they reconciled him to his wife, and she to him: but not without some difficulty in him; who falling into wonderfull greefe and melancholy, for losse of such an admirable precious stone, was in danger to have dyed, within lesse then a month after.[Hide Third Novell]
Ladie Eliza having concluded her Novell, not without infinite commendations of the whole company: the Queen turning her lookes to Madame Aimillia, gave her such an expresse signe, as she must needs follow next after Madame Eliza, whereupon she began in this manner.
Vertuous Ladies, I very well remember (by divers Novels formerly related) that sufficient hath beene sayde, concerning Priests and Religious persons, and all other carrying shaven Crownes, in their luxurious appetites and desires. But because no one can at any time say so much, as thereto no more may be added: beside them alreadie spoken of, I wil tel you another concerning the Provost of a Cathedral Church, who would needes (in despight of all the world) love a Gentlewoman whether she would or no: and therefore, in due chastisement both unto his age and folly, she gave him such entertainment as he justly deserved.
It is not unknowne unto you all, that the Cittie of Fieosola, the mountaine whereof we may very easily hither discerne, hath bene (in times past) a very great and most ancient City: although at this day it is wellneere all ruined: yet neverthelesse, it alwaies was, and yet is a Byshops See, albeit not of the wealthiest. In the same Citie, and no long while since, neere unto the Cathedrall Church, there dwelt a Gentlewoman, being a Widdow, and commonlie there stiled by the name of Madame Piccarda, whose house and inheritance was but small, wherewith yet she lived very contentedly (having no wandering eye, or wanton desires) and no company but her two Brethren, Gentlemen of especiall honest and gracious disposition.
This Gentlewoman, being yet in the flourishing condition of her time, did ordinarily resort to the Cathedrall Church in holie zeale, and religious devotion; where the Provost of the place, became so enamored of her, as nothing (but the sight of her) yeelded him any contentment. Which fond affection of his, was forwarded with such an audacious and bold carriage, as hee dared to acquaint her with his love, requiring her enterchange of affection, and the like opinion of him, as he had of her. True it is, that he was very farre entred into yeares, but yong and lustie in his own proud conceite, presuming strangely beyond his capacity, and thinking as well of his abilitie, as the youthfullest gallant in the World could doe. Whereas (in verie deede) his person was utterly displeasing, his behaviour immodest and scandaious, and his usuall Language, savouring of such sensualitie, as, very fewe or none cared for his company. And if any Woman seemed respective of him, it was in regard of his outside and profession, and more for feare, then the least affection, and alwayes as welcome to them, as the head-ake.
His fond and foolish carriage stil continuing to this Gentlewoman; she being wise and vertuously advised, spake thus unto him. Holy Sir, if you love me according as you protest, and manifest by your outward behaviour: I am the more to thanke you for it, being bound in dutie to love you likewise. But if your Love have any harshe or unsavourie taste, which mine is no way able to endure, neyther dare entertaine in anie kinde whatsoever: you must and shall hold mee excused, because I am made of no such temper. You are my ghostly and spirituall Father, an Holy Priest. Moreover, yeares have made you honorably aged; all which severall weighty considerations, ought to confirme you in continency and chastity. Remember withall (good sir) that I am but a child to you in years, and were I bent to any wanton appetites, you shold justly correct me by fatherly counsell, such as most beautifieth your sacred profession. Beside, I am a Widdow, and you are not ignorant, how requisite a thing honestie is in widdowes. Wherefore, pardon mee (Holy Father:) for, in such manner as you make the motion: I desire you not to love mee, because I neither can or will at any time so affect you.
The Provoste gaining no other grace at this time, would not so give over for this first repulse, but pursuing her still with unbeseeming importunity; many private meanes he used to her by Letters, tokens, and insinuating ambassages; yea, whensoever shee came to the Church, he never ceased his wearisome solicitings. Whereat she growing greatly offended, and perceyving no likelyhood of his desisting; became so tyred with his tedious suite, that she considered with her selfe, how she might dispatch him as he deserved, because she saw no other remedy. Yet shee would not attempte anie thing in this case, without acquainting her Bretheren first therwith. And having tolde them, how much shee was importuned by the Provost, and also what course she meant to take (wherin they both counselled and encouraged her:) within a few daies after, shee went to Church as she was wont to do; where so soone as the Provost espyed her: forthwith he came to her, and according to his continued course, he fell into his amorous courting. She looking upon him with a smiling countenance, and walking aside with him out of any hearing: after he had spent many impertinent speeches, shee (venting foorth manie a vehement sighe) at length returned him this answer.
Reverend Father, I have often heard it saide: That there is not any Fort or Castle, how strongly munited soever it bee; but by continuall assayling, at length (of necessity) it must and will be surprized. Which comparison, I may full well allude to my selfe. For, you having so long time solicited me, one while with affable language, then againe with tokens and entisements, of such prevailing power: as have broken the verie barricado of my former deliberation, and yeelded mee uppe as your prisoner, to be commanded at your pleasure for now I am onely devoted yours.
Well may you (Gentle Ladies) imagine, that this answere was not a little welcome to the Provost; who, shrugging with conceyte of joy, presently thus replyed. I thanke you Madame Piccarda, and to tell you true, I held it almost as that you could stand upon such long resistance, considering, it never so fortuned to mee with anie other. And I have many times saide to my selfe, that if women were made of silver, they hardly could be worth a pennie, because there can scarsely one be found of so good allay, as to endure the test and essay. But let us breake off this frivolous conference, and resolve upon a conclusion; How, when and where we may safely meete together. Worthy Sir, answered Piccarda, your selfe may appoint the time whensoever you please, because I have no Husband, to whom I should render any account of my absence, or presence: but I am not provided of any place.
A pretty while the Provoste stood musing, and at last saide. A place Madame? where can be more privacie, then in your owne house? Alas Sir (quoth she) you know that I have two Gentlemen my brethren, who continually are with me, and other of their friends beside: My house also is not great, wherefore it is impossible to be there, except you could be like a dumbe man, without speaking one word, or making the very least noyse; beside, to remaine in darkenesse, as if you were blinde, and who can be able to endure all these? And yet (without these) there is no adventuring, albeit they never come into my Chamber: but their lodging is so close to mine, as there cannot any word be spoken, be it never so low or in whispering manner, but they heare it very easily. Madame said the Provoste, for one or two nights, I can make hard shift. Why Sir (quoth she) the matter onely remaineth in you, for if you be silent and suffering, as already you have heard, there is no feare at all of safty. Let me alone Madame, replyed the Provoste, I will be governed by your directions: but, in any case, let us begin this night. With all my heart, saide shee. So appointing him how, and when hee should come; hee parted from her, and shee returned home to her house.
Heere I am to tell you, that this Gentlewoman had a servant, in the nature of an old maide, not indued with any well featured face, but instead thereof, she had the ugliest and most counterfeit countenance, as hardly could be seene a worse. She had a wrie mouth, huge great lippes, foule teeth, great and blacke, a monstrous stinking breath, her eyes bleared, and alwayes running, the complexion of her face betweene greene and yellow, as if shee had not spent the Summer season in the Citie, but in the parching Countrey under a hedge; and beside all these excellent parts, shee was crooke backt, poult footed, and went like a lame Mare in Fetters. Her name was Ciuta, but in regard of her flat nose, lying as low as a Beagles, shee was called Ciutazza. Now, notwithstanding all this deformity in her, yet she had a singuler opinion of her selfe, as commonly all such foule Sluts have: in regard whereof, Madame Piccarda calling her aside, thus began.
Ciutazza, if thou wilt doe for me one nights service, I shall bestow on thee a faire new Smocke. When Ciutazza heard her speake of a new Smocke, instantly she answered. Madame, if you please to bestow a new Smocke on me, were it to runne thorow the fire for you, or any businesse of farre greater danger, you onely have the power to command me, and I will doe it. I will not (said Piccarda) urge thee to any dangerous action, but onely to lodge in my bed this night with a man, and give him courteous entertainement, who shall reward thee liberally for it. But have an especiall care that thou speake not one word, for feare thou shouldst be heard by my Brethren, who (as thou knowest) lodge so neere by; doe this, and then demaund thy Smocke of me. Madame (quoth Ciutazza) if it were to lye with sixe men, rather then one; if you say the word, it shall be done.
When night was come, the Provoste also came according to appointment, even when two brethren were in their lodging, they easily heard his entrance, as Piccarda (being present with them) had informed them. In went the Provoste without any candle, or making the least noise to be heard, and being in Piccardaes Chamber, went to bed: Ciutazza tarrying not long from him, but (as her Mistresse had instructed her) she went to bed likewise, not speaking any word at all, and the Provoste, imagining to have her there, whom he so highly affected, fell to imbracing and kissing Ciutazza, who was as forward in the same manner to him, and there for a while I intend to leave them.
When Piccarda had performed this hot piece of businesse, she referred the effecting of the remainder to her Brethren, in such sort as it was compacted betweene them. Faire and softly went the two brethren forth of their Chamber, and going to the Market place, Fortune was more favourable to them then they could wish, in accomplishing the issue of their intent. For the heat being somwhat tedious, the Lord Bishop was walking abroad very late, with purpose to visit the Brethren at the Widdowes house, because he tooke great delight in their company, as being good Schollers, and endued with other singular parts beside. Meeting with them in the open Market place, he acquainted them with his determination; whereof they were not a little joyfull, it jumping so justly with their intent.
Being come to the Widdowes house, they passed through a smal nether Court, where lights stood ready to welcome him thither; and entring into a goodly Hall, there was store of good wine and banquetting, which the Bishop accepted in very thankefull manner: and courteous complement being overpassed, one of the Brethren, thus spake. My good Lord, seeing it hath pleased you to honour our poore Widdowed Sisters house with your presence, for which wee shall thanke you while we live: We would intreate one favour more of you, onely but to see a sight which we will shew you. The Lord Bishop was well contented with the motion: so the Brethren conducting him by the hand, brought him into their Sisters Chamber, where the Provoste was in bed with Ciutazza, both soundly sleeping, but enfolded in his armes, as wearied (belike) with their former wantonning, and whereof his age had but little need.
The Courtaines being close drawne about the bed, although the season was exceeding hot, they having lighted Torches in their hands; drew open the Curtaines, and shewed the Bishop his Provoste, close snugging betweene the armes of Ciutazza. Upon a sudden the Provoste awaked, and seeing so great a light, as also so many people about him: shame and feare so daunted him, that hee shrunke downe in the bed, and hid his head. But the Bishop being displeased at a sight so unseemely, made him to discover his head againe, to see whom he was in bed withall. Now the poore Provoste perceiving the Gentlewomans deceite, and the proper hansome person so sweetly embracing him: it made him so confounded with shame, as he had not the power to utter one word: but having put on his cloathes by the Bishops command, hee sent him (under sufficient guard) to his Pallace, to suffer due chastisement for his sinne committed; and afterward he desired to know, by what meanes hee became so favoured of Ciutazza, the whole Historie whereof, the two brethren related at large to him.
When the Bishop had heard all the discourse, highly he commended the wisedome of the Gentlewoman, and worthy assistance of her brethren, who contemning to soile their hands in the blood of a Priest, rather sought to shame him as hee deserved. The Bishop enjoyned him a pennance of repentance for forty dayes after, but love and disdaine made him weepe nine and forty: Moreover, it was a long while after, before he durst be seene abroad. But when he came to walke the streets, the Boyes would point their fingers at him, saying. Behold the Provoste that lay with Ciutazza: Which was such a wearisome life to him, that he became (well neere) distracted in his wits. In this manner the honest Gentlewoman discharged her dutie, and rid her selfe of the Provosts importunity: Ciutazza had a merry night of it, and a new Smocke also for her labour.[ Hide Fourth Novell ]
No sooner had Madam Aemillia finished her Novell, wherin, the excellent wisdome of Piccarda, for so worthily punishing the luxurious old Provoste, had generall commendations of the whole Assembly: but the Queene, looking on Philostratus, said. I command you next to supply the place: whereto he made answere, that hee was both ready and willing, and then thus began. Honourable Ladies, the merry Gentleman, so lately remembred by Madame Eliza, being named Maso del Saggio; causeth me to passe over an intended Tale, which I had resolved on when it came to my turne: to report another concerning him, and two men more, his friendly Companions. Which although it may appeare to you somewhat unpleasing, in regard of a little grosse and unmannerly behaviour: yet it will move merriment without any offence, and that is the maine reason why I relate it.
It is not unknowne to you, partly by intelligence from our reverend predecessours, as also some understanding of your owne, that many time have resorted to our City of Florence, Potestates and Officers, belonging to the Marquesate of Anconia; who commonly were men of lowe spirit, and their lives so wretched and penurious, as they rather deserved to be tearmed Misers, then men. And in regard of this their naturall covetousnesse and misery, the Judges would bring also in their company, such Scribes or Notaries, as being paralelde with their Masters: they all seemed like Swaines come from the Plough, or bred up in some Coblers quality, rather then Schollers, or Students of Law.
At one time (above all the rest) among other Potestates and Judges, there came an especiall man, as pickt out of purpose, who was named Messer Niccolao da San Lepidio, who (at the first beholding) looked rather like a Tinker, then any Officer in authority. This hansome man (among the rest) was deputed to heare criminall causes. And, as often it happeneth, that Citizens, although no businesse inviteth them to Judiciall Courts, yet they still resort thither, sometimes accidentally: So it fortuned, that Maso times del Saggio, being one morning in search of an especiall friend, went to the Court-house, and being there, observed in what manner Messer Niccolao was seated; who looking like some strange Fowle, lately come forth of a farre Countrey; he began to survay him the more seriously, even from the head to the foot, as we use to say. And albeit he saw his Gowne furred with Miniver, as also the hood about his necke, a Penne and Inkehorne hanging at his girdle, and one skirt of his Garment longer then the other, with more misshapen sights about him, farre unfitting for a man of so civill profession: yet he spyed one errour extraordinary, the most notable (in his opinion) that ever he had seene before. Namely, a paultry paire of Breeches, wickedly made, and worse worne, hanging downe lowe as halfe his legge, even as he sate upon the Bench, yet cut so sparingly of the Cloath, that they gaped wide open before, as a wheele-barrow might have full entrance allowed it. This strange sight was so pleasing to him; as leaving off further search of his friend, and scorning to have such a spectacle alone by himselfe: hee went upon another Inquisition; Namely, for two other merry Lads like hirnselfe, the one being called Ribi, and the other Matteuzzo, men of the same mirth-full disposition as he was, and therefore the fitter for his Company.
After he had met with them, these were his salutations: My honest Boyes, if ever you did me any kindnesse, declare it more effectually now, in accompanying me to the Court-house, where you shall behold such a singular spectacle, as (I am sure) you never yet saw the like. Forthwith they went along altogether, and being come to the Courthouse, he shewed them the Judges hansome paire of Breeches, hanging down in such base and beastly manner; that (being as yet farre off from the Bench) their hearts did ake with extreamity of laughter. But when they came neere to the seat whereon Messer Niccolao sate, they plainely perceived, that it was very easie to be crept under, and withall, that the board whereon he set his feet, was rotten and broken, so that it was no difficult matter, to reach it, and pull it downe as a man pleased, and let him fall bare Breecht to the ground. Cheare up your spirits (my hearts) quoth Maso, and if your longing be like to mine; we will have yonder Breeches a good deale lower, for I see how it may be easily done. Laying their heads together, plotting and contriving severall wayes, which might be the likelyest to, compasse their intent: each of them had his peculiar appointment, to undertake the businesse without fayling and it was to be performed the next morning. At the houre assigned, they met there againe, and finding the Court well filled with people, the Plaintiffes and Defendants earnestly pleading: Matteuzzo (before any body could descry him) was cunningly crept under the Bench, and lay close by the board whereon the Judge placed his feete. Then stept in Maso on the right hand of Messer Niccolao, and tooke fast hold on his Gowne before; the like did Ribi on the left hand, in all respects answerable to the other. Oh my Lord Judge (cryed Maso out aloud) I humbly intreat you for charities sake, before this pilfering knave escape away from hence; that I may have justice against him, for stealing my drawing-over stockeings, which he stoutly denyeth, yet mine owne eyes beheld the deed, it being now not above fifteene dayes since, when first I bought them for mine owne use.
Worthy Lord Judge (cryed Ribi, on the other side) doe not beleeve what he saith, for he is a paltry lying fellow, and because hee knew I came hither to make my complaint for a Male or Cloakebag which he stole from me: hee urgeth this occasion for a paire of drawing Stockeings, which he delivered me with his owne hands. If your Lordship will not credit me, I can produce as witnesses, Trecco the Shoemaker, with Monna Grassa the Souse-seller, and he that sweepes the Church of Santa Maria a Verzaia, who saw him when he came posting hither. Maso haling and tugging the Judge by the sleeve, would not suffer him to heare Ribi, but cryed out still for justice against him, as he did the like on the contrary side.
During the time of this their clamourous contending, the Judge being very willy willing to heare either party: Matteuzzo, upon a signe received from the other, which was a word in Masoes pleading, laide holde on the broken boord, as also on the Judges low-hanging Breech, plucking at them both so strongly, that they fell downe immediately, the Breeches being onely tyed but with one Poynt before. He hearing the boards breaking underneath him, and such maine pulling at his Breeches; strove (as he sate) to make them fast before, but the Poynt being broken, and Maso crying in his eare on the one side, as Ribi did the like in the other; hee was at his wits end to defend himselfe. My Lord (quoth Maso) you may bee ashamed that you doe me not justice, why will you not heare mee, but wholly lend your eare to mine Adversary? My Lord (said Ribi) never was Libell preferd into this Court, of such a paltry trifling matter, and therefore I must, and will have Justice.
By this time the Judge was dismounted from the Bench, and stood on the ground, with his slovenly Breeches hanging about his heeles: Matteuzzo being cunningly stolne away, and undiscovered by any body. Ribi, thinking he had shamed the Judge sufficiently, went away, protesting, that he would declare his cause in the hearing of a wiser Judge. And Maso forbearing to tugge his Gowne any longer, in his departing, said. Fare you well Sir, you are not worthy to be a Magistrate, if you have no more regard of your honour and honesty, but will put off poore mens suites at your pleasure. So both went severall wayes, and soone were gone out of publike view.
The worshipfull Judge Messer Niccolao stood all this while on the ground; and, in presence of all the beholders, trussed up his Breeches, as if-hee were new risen out of his bed: when better bethinking himselfe on the matters indifference, he called for the two men, who contended for the drawing stockings and the Cloake-bag; but no one could tell what was become of them. Whereupon, he rapt out a kinde of Judges oath, saying: I will know whether it be Law or no heere in Florence, to make a Judge sit bare Breecht on the Bench of Justice, and in the hearing of criminall Causes; whereat the chiefe Potestate, and all the standers by laughed heartily.
Within fewe dayes after, he was informed by some of his especiall Friends, that this had never happened to him, but onely to testifie, how understanding the Florentines are, in their ancient constitutions and customes, to embrace, love and honour, honest, discreet worthy Judges and Magistrates; Whereas on the contrary, they as much condemne miserable knaves, fooles, and dolts, who never merit to have any better entertainment. Wherefore, it would be best for him, to make no more enquiry after the parties; lest a worse inconvenience should happen to him.[ Hide Fift Novell ]
Philostratus had no sooner concluded his Novell, and the whole Assembly laughed Madame thereat: but the Queen gave command to Madame Philomena, that shee should follow next in order; whereupon thus shee began. Worthy Ladies, as Philostratus, by calling to memorie the name of Maso del Saggio, hath contented you with another merry Novell concerning him: In the same manner must I intreat you, to remember once againe Calandrino and his subtle by a pretty tale which I meane to tell ow, and in what manner they were revenged on him, for going to seeke the invisible Stone.
Needlesse were any fresh relation to you, what manner of people those three men were, Calandrino, Bruno, and Buffalmaco, because already you have had sufficient understanding of them. And therefore, as an induction to my discourse, I must tell you, that Calandrino had a small Country-house, in a Village some-what neere to Florence, which came to him by the marriage of his Wife. Amon other Cattle and Poultry, which he kept there in store, hee had a young Boare readie fatted for Brawne, whereof yearly he used to kill one for his owne provision; and alwaies in the month of December, he and his wife resorted to their village house, to have a Brawne both killed and salted.
It came to passe at this time concerning my Tale, that the Woman being somewhat crazie and sickly, by her Husbands unkinde usage, whereof you heard so lately; Calandrino went alone to the killing of his Boare, which comming to the hearing of Bruno and Buffalmaco and that the Woman could by no meanes be there: to passe away the time a little in merriment, they went to a friendlie Companion of theirs, an honest joviall Priest, dwelling not farre off from Calandrinoes Countrey house.
The same morning as the Boare was kilde, they all three went thither, and Calandrino seeing them in the Priests companie: bad them all heartily welcome; and to acquaint them with his good Husbandry, hee shewed them his house, and the Boare where it hung. They perceyving it to be faire and fat, knowing also, that Calandrino intended to salt it for his owne store, Bruno saide unto him: Thou art an Asse Calandrino, sell thy Brawne, and let us make merrie with the money: then let thy wife know no otherwise, but that it was stolne from thee, by those theeves which continually haunt country houses, especially in such scattering Villages.
Oh mine honest friends, answered Calandrino, your counsell is not to be followed, neither is my wife so easie to be perswaded: this wer the readiest way to make your house a hell, and she to become the Master Divell: therefore talke no further, for flatly I will not doe it. Albeit they laboured him very earnestly, yet all proved not to anie purpose: onely he desired them to suppe with him, but in so colde a manner, as they denyed him, and parted thence from him. As they walked on the way, Bruno saide to Buffalmaco. Shall we three (this night) rob him of his Brawne? Yea marry (quoth Buffalmaco) how is it to be done? I have (saide Bruno) alreadie found the meanes to effect it, if he take it not from the place where last we saw it. Let us doe it then (answered Buffalmaco) why should we not do it? Sir Domine heere and we, will make good cheare with it among our selves. The nimble Priest was as forward as the best; and the match being fully agreed on, Bruno thus spake. My delicate Sir Domine, Art and cunning must be our maine helps: for thou knowest Buffalmaco, what a covetous wretch Calandrino is, glad and readie to drink alwaies on other mens expences: let us go take him with us to the Tavern, where the Priest (for his owne honour and reputation) shall offer to make paiment of the whole reckoning, without receiving a farthing of his, whereof he will not be a little joyfull, so shall we bring to passe the rest of the businesse, because there is no body in the house, but onely himselfe: for he is best at ease without company.
As Bruno had propounded, so was it accordingly performed, and when Calandrino perceyved, that the Priest would suffer none to pay, but himselfe, he dranke the more freely; and when there was no neede at all, tooke his Cuppes couragiously one after another. Two or three houres of the night were spent, before they parted from the Taverne, Calandrino going directly home to his house, and instantly to bed, without any other supper, imagining that he had made fast his doore, which (indeede) he left wide open: sleeping soundly, without suspition of any harme intended unto him. Buffalmaco and Bruno went and supt with the Priest, and so soone as supper was ended, they tooke certaine Engines, for their better entering into Calandrinoes house, and so went on to effect theyr purpose. Finding the doore standing readie open, they entered in, tooke the Brawne, carried it with them to the Priests house, and afterward went all to bed.
When Calandrino had well slept after his Wine, he arose in the morning, and being descended downe the staires; finding the street doore wide open, he looked for the Brawne, but it was gone. Enquiring of the neighbours dwelling neere about him, hee could heare no tydings of his Brawne, but became the wofullest man in the world, telling every one that his Brawne was stolne. Bruno and Buffalmaco being risen in the morning, they went to visite Calandrino to heare how he tooke the losse of his Brawne: and hee no sooner had a sight of them, but he called them to him; and with the teares running downe his cheekes, sayde: Ah my deare friendes, I am robde of my Brawne. Bruno stepping closely to him, sayde in his eare: It is wonderfull, that once in thy life time thou canst bee wise. How? answered Calandrino, I speake to you in good earnest. Speake so still in earnest (replied Bruno) and cry it out so loud as thou canst, then let who list beleeve it to be true.
Calandrino stampt and fretted exceedingly, saying: As I am a true man to God, my Prince, and Countrey, I tell thee truly, that my Brawne is stolne. Say so still I bid thee (answered Bruno) and let all the world beleeve thee, if they list to do so, for I will not. Wouldst thou (quoth Calandrino) have me damne my selfe to the divell? I see thou dost not credit what I say: but would I were hanged by the necke, if it be not true, that my Brawne is stolne. How can it possible be, replyed Bruno? Did not I see it in thy house yesternight? Wouldst thou have me beleeve, that it is flowne away? Although it is not flowne away (quoth Calandrino) yet I am certain, that it is stolne away: for which I am weary of my life, because I dare not go home to mine owne house, in regard my wife will never beleeve it; and yet if she should credite it, we are sure to have no peace for a twelve months space.
Bruno, seeming as if he were more then halfe sorrowfull, yet supporting still his former jesting humor, saide: Now trust mee Calandrino, if it be so; they that did it are much too blame. If it be so? answered Calandrino, Belike thou wouldst have mee blaspheme Heaven, and all the Saints therein: I tell thee once againe Bruno, that this last night my Brawne was stolne. Be patient good Calandrino, replyed Buffalmaco, and if thy Brawne be stolne from thee, there are means enow to get it againe. Meanes enow to get it againe? said Calandrino, I would faine heare one likely one, and let all the rest go by. I am sure Calandrino, answered Buffalmaco, thou art verily perswaded, that no Theefe came from India, to steale thy Brawne from thee: in which respect, it must needes then be some of thy Neighbours: whom if thou couldst lovingly assemble together, I knowe an experiment to be made with Bread and Cheese, whereby the party that hath it, will quickly be discovered.
I have heard (quoth Bruno) of such an experiment, and helde it to be infallible; but it extendeth onely unto persons of Gentilitie, whereof there are but few dwelling heere about, and in the case of stealing a Brawne, it is doubtfull to invite them, neither can there be any certainty of their comming. I confesse what you say, aunswered Buffalmaco, to be very true: but then in this matter, so nerely concerning us to be done, and for a deare Friend, what is your advice? I would have Pilles made of Ginger, compounded with your best and strongest Malmsey, then let the ordinary sort of people be invited (for such onely are most to be mistrusted) and they will not faile to come, because they are utterly ignorant of our intention. Besides, the Pilles may as well bee hallowed and consecrated, as bread and cheese on the like occasion. Indeede you say true (replyed Buffalmaco) but what is the opinion of Calandrino? Is he willing to have this tryall made, or no? Yes, by all meanes, answered Calandrino, for gladly I would know who hath stolne my Brawne; and your good words have (more then halfe) comforted me already in this case.
Well then (quoth Bruno) I will take the paines to go to Florence, to provide all things necessarie for this secret service; but I must bee furnished with money to effect it. Calandrino had some forty shillings then about him, which he delivered to Bruno, who presently went to Florence, to a frend of his an Apothecarie, of whom he bought a pound of white Ginger, which hee caused him to make uppe in small Pilles: and two other beside of a Dogges-dates or Dowsets, confected all over with strong Aloes, yet well moulded in Sugare, as all the rest were: and because they should the more easily bee knowne from the other, they were spotted with Gold, in verie formall and Physicall manner. He bought moreover, a big Flaggon of the best Malmesey, returning backe with all these things to Calandrino, and directing him in this order.
You must put some friend in trust, to invite your Neighbors (especially such as you suspect) to a breakfast in the morning: and because it is done as a feast in kindnesse, they will come to you the more willingly. This night will I and Buffalmaco take such order, that the Pilles shall have the charge imposed on them, and then wee will bring them hither againe in the morning: and I, my selfe (for your sake) will deliver them to your guests, and performe whatsoever is to bee sayde or done. On the next morning, a goodly company being assembled, under a faire Elme before the Church; as well young Florentynes (who purposely came to make themselves merry) as neighbouring Husbandmen of the Village: Bruno was to begin the service, with the Pils in a faire Cup, and Buffalmaco followed him with another Cup, to deliver the wine out of the Flaggon, all the company beeing set round, as in a circle; and Bruno with Buffalmaco being in the midst of them, Bruno thus spake. Honest friends, it is fit that I should acquaint you with the occasion, why we are thus met together, and in this place: because if anie thing may seeme offensive to you; afterward you shall make no complaint of me. From Calandrino (our loving friend heere present) yesternight there was a new-kild fat Brawne taken, but who hath done the deede, as yet he knoweth not; and because none other, but some one (or more) heere among us, must needs offend in this case: he, desiring to understand who they be, would have each man to receive one of these Pilles, and afterward to drinke of this Wine; assuring you all, that whosoever stole the Brawne hence, cannot be able to swallow the Pill: for it wil be so extreme bitter in his mouth, as it will enforce him to Coughe and spet extraordinarily. In which respect, before such a notorious shame be received, and in so goodly an assembly, as now are heere present: it were much better for him or them that have the Brawne, to confesse it in private to this honest Priest, and I will abstaine from urging anie such publike proofe.
Every one there present answered, that they were well contented both to eate and drinke, and let the shame fall where it deserved; whereupon, Bruno appointing them how they should sit, and placing Calandrino as one among them: he began his counterfeite exorcisme, giving each man a Pill, and Buffalmaco a Cup of Wine after it. But when he came to Calandrino, hee tooke one of them which was made of the Dogges dates or Dowsets, and delivering it into his hand, presently hee put it into his mouth and chewed it. So soone as his tongue tasted the bitter Aloes, he began to coughe and spet extreamly, as being utterly unable, to endure the bitternesse and noysome smell. The other men that had receyved the Pils, beganne to gaze one upon another, to see whose behaviour should discover him; and Bruno having not (as yet) delivered Pils to them all, proceeded on still in his businesse, as seeming not to heare any coughing, till one behinde him, saide. What meaneth Calandrino by this spetting and coughing?
Bruno sodainely turning him about, and seeing Calandrino to cough and spet in such sort, saide to the rest. Be not too rash (honest Friends) in judging of any man, some other matter (then the Pille) may procure this Coughing, wherfore he shall receive another, the better to cleare your beleefe concerning him. He having put the second prepared Pill into his mouth, while Bruno went to serve the rest of the Guests: if the first was exceeding bitter to his taste, this other made it a great deale worse, for teares streamed forth of his eyes as bigge as Cherry-stones, and champing and chewing the Pill, as hoping it would overcome his coughing; he coughed and spette the more violently, and in grosser manner then he did before, nor did they give him any wine to helpe it.
Buffalmaco, Bruno, and the whole company, perceiving how he continued still his coughing and spetting, saide all with one voyce, That Calandrino was the Theefe to him selfe: and gave him manie grosse speeches beside, all departing home unto their houses, very much displeased and angry with him. After they were gone, none remained with him but the Priest, Bruno and Buffalmaco, who thus spake to Calandrino. I did ever thinke, that thou wast the theefe thy selfe, yet thou imputedst thy robbery to some other, for feare we should once drinke freely of thy purse, as thou hast done many times of ours. Calandrino, who had not yet ended his coughing and spetting, sware many bitter Oathes, that his Brawne was stolne from him. Talke so long as thou wilt, quoth Buffalmaco, thy knavery is both knowne and seene, and well thou mayst be ashamed of thy selfe. Calandrino hearing this, grew desperately angry; and to incense him more, Bruno thus pursued the matter.
Heare me Calandrino, for I speake to thee in honest earnest, there was a man in the company, who did eate and drinke heere among thy neighbours, and plainly told me, that thou keptst a young Lad heere to do thee service, feeding him with such victuals as thou couldst spare, by him thou didst send away thy Brawne, to one that bought it of thee for foure Crownes, onely to cousen thy poore wife and us. Canst thou not yet learne to leave thy mocking and scorning? Thou hast forgotte, how thou broughtst us to the plaine of Mugnone, to seeke for black invisible stones: which having found, thou concealedst them to thy selfe, stealing home invisibly before us, and making us follow like fooles after thee.
Now likewise, by horrible lying Oathes, and perjured protestations, thou wouldst make us beleeve, that the Brawne (which thou hast cunningly sold for ready money) was stolne from thee out of thy house, when thou art onely the Theefe to thy selfe, as by that excellent rule of Art (which never faileth) hath plainly, to thy shame, appeared. Wee being so well acquainted with thy delusions, and knowing them perfectly; now do plainly tell thee, that we mean not to be foold any more. Nor is it unknowne to thee, what paines wee have taken, in making this singular peece of proofe. Wherefore we inflict this punishment on thee, that thou shalt bestow on this honest Priest and us, two couple of Capons, and a Flaggon of Wine, or else we will discover this knavery of thine to thy Wife.
Calandrino perceiving, that all his protestations could winne no credit with them, who had now the Law remaining in their owne hands, and purposed to deale with him as they pleased: apparantly saw, that sighing and sorrow did nothing availe him. Moreover, to fall into his wives tempestuous stormes of chiding, would bee worse to him then racking or torturing: he gladly therefore gave them money, to buy the two couple of Capons and Wine, being heartily contented likewise, that hee was so well delivered from them. So the merry Priest, Bruno, and Buffalmaco, having taken good order for salting the Brawne; closely carried it with them to Florence, leaving Calandrino to complaine of his losse, and well requited, for mocking them with the invisible stones.[ Hide Sixt Novell ]
Greatly did the Ladies commend Madame Philomenaes Novell, laughing heartily at poore Calandrino, yet grieving withall, that he should be so knavishly cheated, not onely of his Brawne, but two couple of Capons, and a Flaggon of Wine beside. But the whole discourse being ended; the Queene commanded Madame Pampinea, to follow next with her Novell, and presently she thus began. It hapneth oftentimes (bright beauties) that mockery falleth on him, that intended the same unto another: And there. fore I am of opinion, that there is very litle wisedom declared on him or her, who taketh delight in mocking any person. must needs confesse, that we have smiled at many mockeries and deceits, related in those excellent Novels, which we have already heard: without any due revenge returned, but onely in this last of silly Calandrino. Wherefore, it is now my determination, to urge a kind of compassionate apprehension, upon a very just retribution, happening to a Gentlewoman of our Citie, because her scorne fell deservedly upon her selfe, remaining mocked, and to the perill of her life. Let Me then assure you, that your diligent attention may redound to your benefit, because if you keepe your selves (henceforward) from being scorned by others: you shall expresse the greater wisedome, and be the better warned by their mishaps.
As yet there are not many yeares overpast, since there dwelt in Florence, a yong Lady, descended of Noble parentage, very beautifull, of sprightly courage, and sufficiently abounding in the goods of Fortune, she being named Madame Helena. Her delight was to live in the estate of Widdowhood, desiring to match her selfe no more in marriage, because she bare affection to a gallant young Gentleman, whom she had made her private election of, and with whom (having excluded all other amorous cares and cogitations) by meanes of her Waitingwoman, she had divers meetings, and kinde conferences.
It chanced at the verie same time, another young Gentleman of our Citie, called Reniero, having long studied in the Schooles at Paris, returned home to Florence, not to make sale of his Learning and experience, as many doe: but to understand the reason of things, as also the causes and effects of them, which is mervailously fitting for any Gentleman. Being greatly honoured and esteemed of every one, as well for his courteous carriage towards all in generall, as for his knowledge and excellent parts: he lived more like a familiar Citizen, then in the nature of a Courtly Gentleman, albeit he was choisely respected in either estate.
But, as oftentimes it commeth to passe, that such as are endued with the best judgement and understanding in naturall occasions, are soonest caught and intangled in the snares of Love: so fel it out with our Scholler Reniero, who being invited to a solemne Feast, in company of other his especiall Friends; this Lady Helena, attyred in her blacke Garments (as Widowes commonly use to wear) was likewise there a Guest. His eye observing her beauty and gracious demeanour, she seemed in his judgement, to be a Woman so compleate and perfect, as he had never seene her equall before: and therefore, he accounted the man more then fortunate, that was worthy to embrace her in his armes. Continuing this amorous observation of her from time to time, and knowing withall, that rare and excellent things are not easily obtained, but by painefull study, labour, and endeavour: hee resolved with himselfe constantly, to put in practise all his best parts of industry, onely to honour and please her, and attaining to her contentation, it would be the means to winne her love, and compasse thereby his hearts desire.
The yong Lady, who fixed not her eyes on inferiour subjects (but esteemed her selfe above ordinary reach or capacity) could moove them artificially, as curious women well know how to doe, looking on every side about her, yet not in a gadding or grosse manner: for she was not ignorant in such darting glaunces, as proceeded from an enflamed affection, which appearing plainely in Reniero; with a pretty smile, shee said to her selfe. I am not come hither this day in vaine; for, if my judgement faile me not, I thinke I have caught a Woodcocke by the Bill. And lending him a cunning looke or two, queintly caried with the corner of her eye; she gave him a kinde of perswading apprehension, that her heart was the guide to her eye. And in this artificial Schoole-tricke of hers, shee carryed therewith another consideration, to wit, that the more other eyes fedde themselves on her perfections, and were (well-neere) lost in them beyond recovery: so much the greater reason had he to account his fortune beyond comparison, that was the sole master of her heart, and had her love at his command.
Our witty Scholler having set aside his Philosophicall considerations, strove how he might best understand her carriage toward him, and beleeving that she beheld him with pleasing regards; hee learned to know the house where shee dwelt, passing daily by the doore divers times, under colour of some more serious occasions: wherein the Lady very proudly gloried, in regard of the reasons before alleadged, and seemed to affoord him lookes of goode liking. Being led thus with a hopefull perswasion, bee found the meanes to gaine acquaintance with her waiting-woman, revealing to her his intire affection, desiring her to worke for him in such sort with her Lady, that his service might be gracious in her acceptance. The Gentlewoman made him a very willing promise, and immediately did his errand to her Lady; who heard her with no small pride and squemishnesse, and breaking forth into a scornefull laughter, thus she spake.
Ancilla (for so she was named) dost thou not observe, how this Scholler is come to lose all the wit heere, which he studyed so long for in the University of Paris? Let us make him our onely Table argument, and seeing his folly soareth so high, we will feed him with such a dyet as hee deserveth. Yet when thou speakest next with him, tell him, that I affect him more then he can doe me; but it becommeth me to be carefull of mine honour, and to walke with an untainted brow, as other Ladies and Gentlewomen doe: which he is not to mislike, if he be so wise as he maketh shew of, but rather will the more commend me. Alas good Lady lack-wit, little did she understand (faire assembly) how dangerous a case it is [to] deale with Schollers.
At his next meeting with the waiting woman, shee delivered the message, as her Lady had commanded her, whereof poore Reniero was so joyfull: that hee pursued his love-suite the more earnestly, and began to write letters, send gifts, and tokens, all which were still received, yet without any other answere to give hope, but onely in generall, and thus shee dallied with him a long while. In the end, she discovered this matter to her secret chosen friend, who fell suddenly sicke of the head-ake, onely through meere conceit of jealousie: which she perceiving, and grieving to be suspected without any cause, especially by him whom shee esteemed above all other; shee intended to rid him quickely of that Idle disease. And being more and more solicited by the Scholler, she sent him word by her maide Ancilla, that (as yet) she could find no convenient opportunity, to yeeld him such assurance, as hee should not any way be distrustfull of her love.
But the Feast of Christmas was now neere at hand, which afforded leisures much more hopefull, then any other formerly passed. And therefore, the next night after the first Feasting day, if he pleased to walke in the open Court of her house: she would soone send for him, into a place much better beseeming, and where they might freely converse together.
Now was our Scholler the onely jocond man of the world, and failed not the time assigned him, but went unto the Ladies house, where Ancilla was ready to give him entertainment, conducting him into the base Court, where she lockt him up fast, untill her Lady should send for him. This night shee had privately sent for her friend also, and sitting merrily at supper with him, told him, what welcome she had given the Scholler, and how she further meant to use him, saying. Now Sir, consider with your selfe, what hot affection I beare to him, of whom you became so fondly jealous. The which words were very welcome to him, and made him extraordinarily joyful; desiring to see them as effectually performed, as they appeared to him by her protestations.
Heere you are to understand (Gracious Ladies) that according to the season of the yeare, a great snow had falne the day before, so as the whole Court was covered therewith, and being an extreame frost upon it, our Scholler could not boast of any warme walking, when the teeth quivered in his head with cold, as a Dog could not be more discourteously used: yet hope of enjoying Loves recompence at length, made him to support all this injury with admirable patience.
Within a while after, Madame Helena said to her friend. Walke with me (deare sal heart) into my Chamber, and there at a secret little window, I shall shew thee what he doth, that drove thee to such a suspition of me, and we shall heare beside, what answere he will give my maide Ancilla, whom I will send to comfort him in his coldnesse.
When she had so said, they went to the appointed chamber window, where they could easily see him, but he not them: and then they heard Ancilla also, calling to him forth of another windowe, saying. Signior Reniero, my Lady is the wofullest woman in the world, because (as yet) she cannot come to you, in regard that one of her brethren came this evening to visite her, and held her with much longer discourse then she expected: whereby she was constrained to invite him to sup with her, and yet he is not gone; but shortly I hope hee will, and then expect her comming presently; till when, she entreateth your gentle sufferance.
Poore Renicro, our over-credulous Scholler, whose vehement affection to Madame Helena, so hood-winkt the sight of his understanding, as he could not be distrustfull of any guilt; returned this answere to Ancilla. Say to your Lady that I am bound in duty, to attend the good houre of her leisure, without so much as the very least prejudicate conceite in me: Neverthelesse, entreat her, to let it bee so soone as she possibly may, because here is miserable walking, and it beginneth againe to snow extreamely. Ancilla making fast the Casement, went presently to bed; when Helena spake thus to her amorous friend. What saist thou now? Doest thou thinke that I loved him, as thou wast afraid of? If I did, he should never walke thus in the frost and snow. So, away went they likewise from their close gazing window, and spent wanton dalliances together, laughing, and deriding (with many bitter taunts and jests) the lamentable condition of poore Reniero.
About the Court walked hee numberlesse times, finding such exercises as he could best devise, to compasse warmth in any manner: no seate or shelter had he any where, either to ease himselfe by sitting downe a while, or keepe him from the snow, falling continually on him, which made him bestow many curses on the Ladies Brother, for his so long tarrying with her, as beleeving him verily to be in the house, or else she would (long before) have admitted his entrance, but therein his hope was meerely deceived. It grew now to be about the houre of midnight, and Helena had delighted her selfe with her friend extraordinarily, til at last, thus she spake to him. What is thine opinion of my amourous Scholler? Which dost thou imagine to be the greatest, either his sense and judgement, or the affection I beare to him? Is not this cold sufferance of his, able to quench the violent heat of his loves extremitie, and having so much snow broth to helpe it? Beleeve me (sweet Lady) quoth her friend, as hee is a man, and a learned Scholler, I pitty that he should bee thus ungently dealt withall: but as he is my rivall and loves enemy, I cannot allow him the least compassion, resting the more confidently assured of your love to me, which I will alwayes esteeme most precious.
When they had spent a long while in this or the like conference, with infinite sweet kisses and embraces intermixed; then she began againe in this manner. Deare love (quoth she) cast thy Cloake about thee, as I intend to doe with my night mantle, and let us step to the little window once more, to see whether the flaming fire, which burned in the Schollers brest (as daily avouched to me in his love letters) be as yet extinct or no. So going to the window againe, and looking downe into the Court; there they saw the Scholler dancing in the snow, to the cold tune of his teeths quivering and chattering, and clapping his armes about his body, which was no pleasing melody to him. How thinkest thou now sweet heart (saide cannot I make a man daunce without the sound of a Taber, or of a Bagpipe? yes beleeve me Lady (quoth he) I plaine pereive you can, and would be very lothe, that at should exercise your cunning on me.
Nay, said shee, we will yet delight our selves a little more; let us softly descend downe the stayres, even so farre as to the Court doore: thou shalt not speake a word, but I will talke to him, and heare some part of his quivering language, which cannot choose but bee passing pleasing for us to heare.
Out of the Chamber went they, and descended downe the stayres to the Court doore; where, without opening it, she laide her mouth to a small cranny, and in a low soft kinde of voyce, called him by his name: which the Scholler hearing, was exceeding joyful, as beleeving verily, that the houre of his deliverance was come, and entrance now should be admitted him. Upon the hearing of her voyce, hee stept close to the doore, saying. For charities sake, good Lady, let me come in, because I am almost dead with cold; whereto thus she answered in mocking manner. I make no doubt (my deare friend Reniero) but the night is indifferent colde, and yet somewhat the warmer by the Snowes falling: and I have heard that such weather as this, is tenne-times more extreame at Paris, then heere in our warmer Countrey. And trust me, I am exceeding sorrowfull, that I may not (as yet) open the doore, because mine unhappy brother, who came (unexpected) yester-night to suppe with mee, is not yet gone, as within a short while (I hope) he will, and then shall I gladly set open the doore to you, for I made an excuse to steale a little from him, onely to cheare you with this small kind of comfort, that his so long tarrying might be the lesse offensive to you.
Alas sweet Madame, answered quaking and quivering Reniero, bee then so favourable to me, as to free me from forth this open Court, where there is no shelter or helpe for me, the snow falling still so exceedingly, as a man might easily be more then halfe buried in it: let me but within your doore, and there I will wait your own good leisure. Alas deare Reniero (answered Helena) I dare not doe it, because the doore maketh such a noyse in the opening, as it will be too easily heard by my Brother: but I will goe and use such meanes, as shortly hee shall get him gone, and then I dare boldly give you entrance. Doe so good Madame, replyed Reniero, and let there be a faire fire made ready, that when I am within, I may the sooner warme my selfe; for I am so strangely benummed with colde, as well-neere I am past all sence of feeling.
Can it be possible (quoth Helena) that you should be so benummed with colde? Then I plainely perceive, that men can lye in their love letters, which I can shew under your own hand, how you fryed in flames, and all for my love, and so have you written to me in every letter. Poore credulous women are often thus deluded, in beleeving what men write and speake out of passion: but I will returne backe to my Brother, and make no doubt of dispatch, because I would gladly have your Company.
The amourous Friend to Helena, who stood by all this while, laughing at the Schollers hard usage, returned up againe with her to her Chamber, where they could not take a jote of rest, for flouting and scorning the betrayed Scholler, As for him poore man, hee was become like the Swanne, coldly chattering his teeth together, in a strange new kinde of harmony to him. And perceiving himselfe to be meerely mocked, he attempted to get open the doore, or how he might passe forth at any other place; but being no way able to compasse it, he walked up and downe like an angry Lyon, cursing the hard quality of the time, the discourtesie of the Lady, the over-tedious length of the night; but (most of all) his owne folly and simplicity, in being so basely abused and gulde. Now began the heat of his former affection to Helena, altered into as violent a detestation of her; Yea, extremity of hatred in the highest degree; beating his braines, and ransacking every corner of in. vention, by what meanes he might best be revenged on her, which now he more earnestly desired to effect, then to enjoy the benefit of her love, or to be embraced betweene her armes.
After that the sad and discomfortable night had spent it selfe, and the break of day was beginning to appeare; Ancilla the waiting-woman, according as she was instructed by her Lady, went downe and opened the Court doore, and seeming exceedingly to compassionate the Schollers unfortunate night of sufferance, saide unto him.
Alas courteous Gentleman, in an unblessed houre came my Ladyes brother hither yesternight, inflicting too much trouble upon us, and a grievous time of affliction to you. But I am not ignorant, that you being vertuous, and a judicious Scholler, have an invincible spirit of pacience, and sufficient understanding withall; that what this night could not affoord, another may make a sound amends for. This I can and dare sufficiently assure you, that nothing could be more displeasing to my Lady, neither can she well be quieted in her mind: untill she have made a double and treble requitall, for such a strange unexpected inconvenience, whereof she had not the very least suspition.
Reniero swelling with discontentment, yet wisely clouding it from open apprehension, and knowing well enough, that such golden speeches and promises, did alwaies savour of what intemperate spleene would more lavishly have vented foorth, and therefore in a modest dissembling manner; without the least shew of any anger, thus he answered.
In good sadnesse Ancilla, I have endured the most miserablest night of cold, frost and snow, that ever any poore Gentleman suffered; but I know well enough, your Lady was not in any fault thereof, neither meriteth to be blamed, for in her owne person (as being truely compassionate of my distresse) she came so farre as the doore of this Court, to excuse her selfe, and comfort mee. But as you saide, and very well too, what hath failed this night, another hereafter may more fortunately performe: in hope whereof, commend my love and duteous service to her, and (what else remaineth mine) to your gentle selfe.
So our halfe frozen Scholler, scarcely able to walke upon his legges, returned home, (so well as hee could) to his owne lodging; where, his spirits being grievously out of order, and his eyes staring gastly through lacke of sleepe: he lay downe on h bed, and after a little rest, he found himselfe in much worse condition then before, as meerely taken lame in his armes and his legges. Whereupon he was inforced to send for Phisitions, to be advised by their councell, in such an extremity of cold received. Immediately, they made provision for his healthes remedie (albeit his nerves and sinewes could very hardly extend themselves) yet in regard he was yong, and Summer swiftly drawing on; they had the better hope of affecting his safty, out of so great and dangerous a cold.
But after he was become almost well and lusty againe, hee used to be seldome seene abroad for an indifferent while; concealing his intended revenge secret to himselfe, yet appearing more affectionate to Madame Helena, then formerly he had beene.
Now, it came to passe (within no long while after) that Fortune being favourable to our injured Scholler, prepared a new accident, wherby he might fully effect his harts desire. For the lusty yong Gallant, who was Madame Helenaes deare darling and delight, and (for whose sake) she dealt so inhumanely with poore Reniero: became weary of her amourous service, and was falne in liking of another Lady, scorning and disdaining his former Mistresse; whereat shee grew exceedingly displeased, and began to languish in sighes and teares.
But Ancilla her waiting-woman, compassionating the perilous condition of her Lady, and knowing no likely meanes whereby to conquer this oppressing melancholly, which shee suffered for the losse of her hearts chosen friend: at length she began to consider, that the Scholler still walked daily by the doore, as formerly hee was wont to doe, and (by him) there might some good be done.
A fond and foolish opinion overswayed her, that the Scholler was extraordinarily skilfull in the Art of Nigromancy, and could thereby so over-rule the heart of her lost friend, as hee should bee compelled to love her againe, in as effectuall manner as before; herewith immediately she acquainted her Lady, who being as rashly credulous, as her maide was opinionative (never considring, that if the Scholler had any experience in Negromancy, hee would thereby have procured his owne successe) gave releefe to her surmise, in very joviall and comfortable manner, and entreated her in all kindnes, to know of him, whether he could worke such a businesse, or no, and (upon his undertaking to effect it) shee would give absolute assurance, that (in recompence thereof) he should unfainedly obtaine his hearts desire. Ancilla was quicke and expeditious, in delivering this message to discontented Reniero, whose soule being ready to mount out of his body, onely by conceit of joy; chearefully thus he said within himselfe. Gracious Fortune! how highly am I obliged to thee for this so great favour? Now thou hast blest me with a happy time, to be justly revenged on so wicked a woman, who sought the utter ruine of my life, in recompence of the unfaigned affection I bare her. Returne to thy Lady (quoth he) and saluting her first on my behalfe, bid her to abandon all care in this businesse; for, if her amourous Friend were in India, I would make him come (in meere despight of his heart) and crave mercy of her for his base transgression. But concerning the meanes how, and in what manner it is to bee done, especially on her owne behalfe: I will impart it to her so soone as she pleaseth: faile not to tell her so constantly from me, with all my utmost paines at her service.
Ancilla came jocondly home with her answere, and a conclusion was set downe for their meeting together at Santa Lucia del prato, which accordingly was performed, in very solemne conference between them. Her fond affection had such power over her, that shee had forgot, into what peril she brought his life, by such an unnatural nightwalke: but disclosed all her other intention to him, how loth she was to lose so deare a friend, and desiring him to exercise his utmost height of skil, with large promises of her manifold favours to him, whereto our Scholler thus replyed.
Very true it is Madam, that among other studies at Paris, I learned the Art of Negromancy, the depth whereof I am as skilfull in, as anie other Scholler whatsoever. But, because it is greatly displeasing unto God, I made a vow never to use it, either for my selfe, or anie other. Neverthelesse, the love I beare you is of such power, as I know not well how to denie, whatsoever you please to command me: in which respect, if in doing you my very best service, I were sure to bee seized on by all the divels: I will not faile to accomplish your desire, you onely having the power to command me. But let me tell you Madame, it is a matter not so easie to be performed, as you perhaps may rashly imagine, especially, when a Woman would repeale a man to love her, or a man a woman: because, it is not to be done, but by the person whom it properly concerneth. And therefore it behoveth, that such as would have this businesse effected, must be of a constant minde, without the least scruple of feare: because it is to be accomplished in the darke night season, in which difficulties I doe not know, how you are able to warrant your selfe, or whether you have such courage of spirit, as (with boldnes) to adventure.
Madame Helena, more hot in pursuite of her amorous contentment, then any way governed by temperate discretion, presently thus answered. Sir, Love hath set such a keene edge on my unconquerable affection, as there is not any daunger so difficult, but I dare resolutely undertake it, for the recovery of him, who hath so shamefullie refused my kindnesse: wherefore (if you please) shew mee, wherein I must be so constant and dreadlesse. The Scholler, who had (more then halfe) caught a right Ninnyhammer by the beake, thus replyed. Madame, of necessity I must make an image of Tin, in the name of him whom you desire to recall. Which when I have sent you, the Moone being then in her full, and your selfe stript starke naked: immediately after your first sleepe, seaven times you must bathe your selfe with it in a swift running River. Afterward, naked as you are, you must climbe up upon some tree, or else upon an uninhabited house top, where standing dreadlesse of any perill, and turning your face to the North, with the Image in your hand, seaven times you must speake such wordes, as I will deliver to you in writing.
After you have so often spoken them, two goodly Ladies (the very fairest that ever you beheld) wil appeare unto you, very graciously saluting you, and demanding what you would have them to performe for you. Safely you may speake unto them, and orderly tel them what you desire: but be very careful, that you name not one man insted of another. When you have uttered your mind, they wil depart from you, and then you may descend againe, to the place where you did leave your garments, which having putte on, then returne to your house. And undoubtedly, before the midst of the next night following, your friend wil come in teares to you, and humbly crave your pardon on his knees; beeing never able afterward to be false to you, or leave your Love for any other whatsoever.
The Lady hearing these words, gave very setled beleefe to them, imagining unfainedly, that shee had (more then halfe) recovered her friend already, and held him embraced between her armes: in which jocond perswasion, the chearful blood mounted up into hir cheekes, and thus she replyed.
Never make you any doubt Sir, but that I can sufficiently performe whatsoever you have said, and am provided of the onely place in the world, where such a weighty businesse is to be effected. For I have a Farme or dairy house, neere adjoyning to the vale of Arno, and closely bordering upon the same River. It beeing now the moneth of july, the most convenientest time of all the yeare to bathe in; I can bee the easier induced thereunto.
Moreover, there is hard by the Rivers side a smal Tower or Turret uninhabited; whereinto few people do sildome enter, but onely Heardsmen or Flocke-keepers, who ascend uppe (by the helpe of a wodden Ladder) to a Tarrasse on the top of the saide Tower, to looke all about for their beasts, when they are wandred astray: it standing in a solitary place, and out of the common way or resort. There dare I boldly adventure to mount up, and with the invincible courage of a wronged Lady (not fearing to looke death himself in the face) do al that you have prescribed, yea, and much more, to recover my deare lost Lover againe, whom I value equal with my owne Life.
Reniero, who perfectly knew both the Dairy Farme, and the old smal Turret, not a little joyful, to heare how forward shee was to shame her selfe, answered in this manner. Madame, I was never in those parts of the Country, albeit they are so neere to our City, and therfore I must needs be ignorant, not onely of your Farme, but the Turret also. But if they stand in such convenient manner as you have described, all the world could not yeelde the like elsewhere, so apt and sutable to your purpose: wherefore, with such expedition as possibly can use, I will make the Image, and send it you, as also the charme, verie fairely written. But let me entreate you, that when you have obtayned your hearts desire, and are able to Judge truely of my love and service: not to be unmindfull of me, but (at your best leysure) to performe what you have with such protestations promised; which shee gave him her hand and faith to do, without any impeach or hinderance: and so parting, she returned home to her house.
Our over-joyed Scholler, applauding his happy Starres, for furthering him with faire a way to his revenge; immagining that it was already halfe executed, made the Image in due forme, and wrote an old Fable, insted of a Charme; both which he sent to the Lady, so soone as he thought the time to be fitting: and this admonition withall, that the Moone being entering into the full, without any longer delay, she might venter on the businesse the next night following; and remaine assured to repossesse her friend. Afterward for the better pleasing of himselfe, he went secretly attended, onely by his servant, to the house of a trusty frend of his, who dwelt somwhat neere to the Turret, there to expect the issue of this Lady-like enterprize. And Madam Helena accompanied with none but Ancilla walked on to her dairy Farme, where the night ensuing, pretending to take her rest sooner then formerly she used to doe, she commanded Ancilla to bed, referring her selfe to her best liking.
After she had to her first sleepe (according to the Schollers direction) departing softly out of her chamber, she went on towards the ancient Tower, standing hard by the river of Arno, looking every way heedfully about hir, least she should be spied by any person. But perceiving hir selfe to be so secure as she could desire; putting off all her garments, she hid them in a small brake of bushes: afterward, holding the Image in hir hand, seven times she bathd hir body in the river, and then returned with it to the Tower. The Scholler, who at the nights closing up of day, had hid himselfe among the willowes and other trees, which grew very thick about the Tower, saw both hir going and returning from the River, and as she passed thus naked by him, he plainly perceyved, that the nights obscurity could not cloud the delicate whitenes of hir body, but made the Starres themselves to gaze amorously on her, even as if they were proud to behold her bathing, and (like so many twinkling Tapers) shewed hir in emulation of another Diana. Now, what conflicts this sight caused in the mind of our Scholler, one while, quenching his hatefull spleen towards hir, al coveting to imbrace a piece of such perfection: another while, thinking it a purchase fit for one of Cupids soldiers, to seize and surprize hir uppon so faire an advantage, none being to yeild her rescue: in the fiery triall of such temptations, I am not able to Judge, or to say, what resistance flesh and blood could make, being opposed with such a sweet enemy.
But he well considering what she was, the greatnes of his injury, as also how, and for whom: he forgot all wanton allurements of Love, scorning to entertaine a thought of compassion, continuing constant in his resolution, to let her suffer, as he himselfe had done. So, Helena being mounted up on the Turret, and turning her face towards the North; she repeated those idle frivolous words (composed in the nature of a charme) which shee had received from the Scholler. Afterward, by soft and stealing steps, hee went into the old Tower, and tooke away the Ladder, whereby she ascended to the Tarras, staying and listening, how shee proceeded in her amorous exorcisme.
Seven times she rehearsed the charme to the Image, looking still when the two Ladies would appeare in their likenesse, and so long she held on her imprecations (feeling greater cold, then willinglie she would have done) that breake of day began to shew it selfe, and halfe despairing of the Ladies comming, according as the Scholler bad promised, she said to her selfe: I much misdoubt, that Reniero hath quitted me with such another peece of night-service, as it was my lucke to bestow on him: but if he have done it in that respect, hee was but ill advised in his revenge, because the night wants now three parts of the length, as then it had: and the cold which he suffered, was far superior in quality to mine, albeit it is more sharp now in the morning, then all the time of night it hath bin.
And, because day-light should not discover her on the Tarrasse, she went to make her descent downe againe: but finding the Ladder to be taken away, and thinking how her publike shame was now inevitable, her heart dismayed, and shee fell downe in a swoune on the Tarras: yet recovering her senses afterward, her greefe and sorrow ex. ceeded all capacity of utterance. For, now she became fully perswaded, that this proceeded from the Schollers malice, repenting for her unkinde usage towards him, but much more condemning her selfe, for reposing any trust in him, who stood bound (by good reason) to be her enemy.
Continuing long in this extreame affliction, and surveighing all likely meanes about her, whereby she might descend from the Tarras, whereof she was wholly disappointed: she began to sighe and weepe exceedingly, and in this heavy perplexity of spirit, thus shee complained to her selfe. Miserable and unfortunate Helena, what will be saide by thy Bretheren, Kindred, Neighbours, and generallie throughout all Florence, when they shall know, that thou wast founde heere on this Turret, starke naked? Thine honourable carriage, and honesty of life, heeretofore free from a thought of suspition, shall now be branded with detestation; and if thou wouldst cloud this mishappe of thine, by such lies and excuses, as are not rare amongst women: yet Reniero that wicked Scholler, who knoweth all thy privy compacting, will stand as a thousand witnesses against thee, and shame thee before the whole City, so both thine honor and loved friend are lost for ever.
Having thus consulted with her selfe, many desperate motions entred her minde, to throw her selfe headlong from off the Tarras; till better thoughts wone possession of her soule. And the Sunne being risen, shee went to every corner of the Tarras, to espye any Lad come abroad with his beasts, by whom she might send for her waitingwoman. About this instant, the Scholler who lay sleeping (all this while) under a bush, suddenly awaking; saw her looke over the wall, and she likewise espyed him; whereupon hee said unto her. Good morrow Madame Helena, What? are the Ladies come yet or no? Helena bearing his scorning question, and grieving that hee should so delude her: in teares and lamentations, she intreated him to come neere the Tower, because she desired to speake with him. Which courtesie he did not deny her, and she lying groveling upon her brest on the Tarras, to hide her body that no part thereof might be seene, but her head; weeping, she spake thus to him.
Reniero, upon my credit, if I gave thee an ill nights rest, thou hast well revenged that wrong on me; for, although wee are now in the moneth of july, I have beene plagued with extremity of colde (in regard of my nakednesse) even almost frozen to death: beside my continuall teares and lamenting, that folly perswaded me to beleeve thy protestations, wherein I account it well-neere miraculous, that mine eyes should be capable of any sight. And therefore I pray thee, lot in respect of any love which thou canst pretend to beare me; but for regard of thine owne selfe, being a Gentleman and a Scholler, that this punishment which thou hast already inflicted upon me, may suffice for or my former injuries towards thee, and to hold selfe revenged fully, as also permit my garments to be brought me, that I may descend from hence, without taking th it from me, which afterward (although thou wouldst) thou canst never restore me, I meane mine honour. And consider with thy selfe, that albeit thou didst not injoy my company that unhappy night, yet thou hast power to command me at any time when soever, with making many diversities of amends, for one nights offence only committed. Content thy selfe then good Reniero, and as thou art an honest gentleman, say thou art sufficiently revenged on me, in making me dearely confesse mine owne errour.
Never exercise thy malice upon a poore weake woman, for the Eagle disdaineth to pray on the yeelding Dove: and therefore in meere pitty, and for manhoods sake, be my release from open shame and reproch.
The Scholler, whose envious spleene was swolne very great, in remembring such a malicious cruelty exercised on him, beholding to weepe and make such lamentations; found a fierce conflict in his thoughts, betweene content and pitty. It did not a little joy and content him, that the revenge which he so earnestly desired to compasse, was now by him so effectually inflicted. And yet (in meere humanity) pitty provoked him, to commisserate the Ladies distressed condition: but clemency being over-weake to withstand his rigor, thus he replied. Madam Helena, if mine entreaties (which, to speake truly, I never knew how to steepe in tears, nor wrap up my words in sugar Candie, so cuningly as you women know how to do) could have prevailed, that miserable night, when I was well-neere frozen to death with cold, and meerly buried with snow in your Court, not having anie place of rescue or shelter; your complaints would now the more easily over-rule me. But if your honor in estimation, bee now more precious to you then heretofore, and it seemeth so offensive to stand there naked: convert your perswasions and prayers to him, in whose armes you were that night imbraced, both of your triumphing in my misery, when poor I, trotted about your Court, with the teeth quivering in my head, and beating mine armes about my body, finding no compassion in him, or you. Let him bring thee thy Garments, let him come helpe thee down with the Ladder, and let him have the care of thine honour, on whom thou hast bene so prodigall heretofore in bestowing it, and now hast unwomanly throwne thy selfe in perill, onely for the maintenance of thine immodest desires.
Why dost thou not call on him to come helpe thee? To whom doeth it more belong, then to him? For thou art his and he thine. Why then shold any other but he help thee in this distresse? Call him (foole as thou art) and try, if the love he beareth thee, and thy best understanding joyned with his, can deliver thee out of my sottish detaining thee. I have not forgot, that when you both made a pastime of my misery, thou didst demand of him, which seemed greatest in his opinion, either my sottish simplicity, or the love thou barest him. I am not now so liberall or courteous, to desire that of thee, which thou wouldst not grant, if I did request it: No, no, reserve those night favours for thy amorous friend, if thou dost escape hence alive to see him againe. As for my selfe, I leave thee freely to his use and service: because I have sufficiently payde for a womans falshood, and wisemen take such warning, that they scorne to bee twice deceived, and by one woman. Proceed on stil in thy flattering perswasions, terming me to be a Gentleman and a Scholler, thereby to win such favor from me, that I should think thy villany toward me, to be already sufficiently punished. No, treacherous Helena, thy blandishments cannot now hoodwink the eies of my understanding, as when thou didst out-reach me with thy disloyall promises and protestations. And let me now tell thee plainely, that all the while I continued in the Universitie of Paris, I never attained unto so perfect an understanding of my selfe, as in that one miserable night thou diddest enstruct mee. But admit, that I were enclined unto a mercifull and compassionate minde, yet thou art none of them, on whome milde and gracious mercy should any way declare her effects. For, the end of pennance among savage beasts, such as thou art, and likewise of due vengeance, ought to be death: whereas among men, it should suffice according to thine owne saying. Wherefore, in regard that I am neither an Eagle, nor thou a Dove, but rather a most venomous Serpent: I purpose with my utmost hatred, and as an ancient enemy to all such as thou art, to make my revenge famous on thee.
I am not ignorant, that whatsoever I have already done unto thee, cannot properly be termed revenge, but rather chastisement; because revenge ought alwayes to exceede the offence, which (as yet) I am farre enough from. For, if I did intend to revenge my wrongs, and remembred thy monstrous cruelty to me: thy life, if I tooke it from thee, and an hundred more such as thy selfe, were farre insufficient, because in killing thee, I should kill but a vile inhumane beast, yea, one that deserved not the name of a Woman. And, to speake truely, Art thou any more, or better (setting aside thy borrowed haire, and painted beauty, which in few yeares will leave thee wrinkled and deformed) then the basest beggarly Chamber-stuffe that can bee? Yet thou soughtest the death of a Gentleman and Scholler as (in scorne) not long since, thou didst terme me: whose life may hereafter be more beneficiall unto the world, then millions of such as thou art, to live in the like multiplicity of ages. Therefore, if this anguish be sensible to thee, learne what it is to mocke men of apprehension, and (amongst them especially) such as are Schollers: to prevent thy falling hereafter into the like extremity, if it be thy good lucke to escape out of this.
It appeareth to me, that thou art verie desirous to come downe hither on the ground; the best counsell that I can give thee, is to leape downe headlong, that by breaking thy necke (if thy fortune be so faire) thy life and lothsome qualities ending together, I may sit and smile at thy deserved destruction. I have no other comfort to give thee, but only to boast my happinesse, in teaching thee the way to ascend that Tower, and in thy descending downe (even by what means thy wit can best devise) make a mockery of me, and say thou hast learned more, then all my Schollership could instruct thee.
All the while as Reniero uttered these speeches, the miserable Lady sighed and wept very grievously, the time running on, and the Sunne ascending higher and higher; but when she heard him silent, thus she answered. Unkinde and cruell man, if that wretched night was so greevous to thee, and mine offence appeared so great, as neither my youth, beautie, teares, and humble intercessions, are able to derive any mercy from thee; yet let the last consideration moove thee to some remorse: namely that I reposed new confidence in thee (when I had little or no reason at all to trust thee) and discovered the integritie of my soule unto thee, whereby thou didst compasse the meanes, to punish me thus deservedly for my sinne. For, if I had not reposed confidence in thee, thou couldst not (in this maner) have wrought revenge on me, which although thou didst earnestly covet, yet my rash credulitie was thy onely helpe. Asswage then thine anger, and graciously pardon me, wherein if thou wilt be so mercifull to me, and free me from this fatall Tower: I do heere faithfully promise thee, to forsake my most false and disloyall friend, electing thee as my Lord and constant Love for ever.
Moreover, although thou condemnest my beauty greatly, esteeming it as a trifle, momentary, and of slender continuance; yet, such as it is (being comparable with any other womans whatsoever) I am not so ignorant, that were there no other reason to induce liking thereof: yet men in the vigour of their youth (as I am sure you think your selfe not aged) do hold it for an especiall delight, ordained by nature for them to admire and honour. And notwithstanding all thy cruelty extended to mee, yet I cannot be perswaded, that thou art so flinty or Ironhearted, as to desire my miserable death, by casting my selfe headlong downe (like a desperate madde woman) before thy face, so to destroy that beuty, which (if thy Letters lyed not) was once so highly pleasing in thine eyes. Take pitty then on mee for charities sake, because the Sunne beginneth to heate extreamely: and as over-much colde (that unhappy night) was mine offence, so let not over-violent warmth be now my utter ruine and death.
The Scholler, who (onely to delight himselfe) maintained this long discoursing with her, returned her this answere. Madame, you did not repose such confidence in me, for any good will or afrection in you towards me, but in hope of recovering him whom you had lost; wherein you merit not a jot of favour, but rather the more sharpe and severe infliction. And whereas you inferre, that your over-rash credulity, gave the onely meanes to my revenge: Alas! therein you deceive your selfe; for I have a thousand crochets working continually in my brain, whereby to entrap a wiser creature then a woman, yet veiled all under the cunning cloake of love, but sauced with the bitter Wormewood of hate. So that, had not this hapned as now it doth, of necessity you must have falne into another: but, as it hath pleased my happy stars to favour mee therein, none could proove more to your eternall scandall and disgrace, then this of your owne devising; which I made choise of, not in regard of any ease to you, but onely to content my selfe.
But if all other devises els had failed, my pen was and is my prevayling Champion, where-with I would have written such and so many strange matters, concerning you in your very dearest reputation; that you should have curst the houre of your conception, and wisht your birth had bin abortive. The powers of the pen are too many and mighty, wherof such weake wits as have made no experience, are the lesse able to use any relation. I sweare to you Lady, by my best hopes, that this revenge which (perhappes) you esteeme great and dishonourable, is no way compareable to the wounding Lines of a Penne, which can carracter downe so infinite infamies (yet none but guilty and true taxations) as will make your owne hands immediate instruments, to teare the eyes from forth your head, and so bequeath your after dayes unto perpetuall darkenesse.
Now, concerning your lost lover, for whose sake you suffer this unexpected pennance; although your choise hath proved but bad, yet still continue your affection to him: in regard that I have another Ladie and Mistresse, of higher and greater desert then you, and to whome I will continue for ever constant. And whereas you thinke, the warme beames of the Sunne, will be too hot and scorching for your nice bodie to endure: remember the extreame cold which you caused mee to feele, and if you can intermixe some part of that cold with the present heat, I dare assure you, the Sun (in his highest heate) will be far more temperate for your feeling.
The disconsolate Lady perceiving, that the Schollers wordes savoured of no mercy, but rather as coveting her desperate ending; with the teares streaming downe her cheekes, thus she replied. Wel Sir, seeing there is no matter of worth in me, whereby to derive any compassion from you: yet for that Ladies sake, whom you have elected worthy to enjoy your love, and so farre excelleth mee in Wisedome; vouchsafe to pardon mee, and suffer my garments to be brought me, wherewith to cover my nakednesse, and so to descend downe from this Tower, if it may stand with your gentle Nature to admit it.
Now beganne Reniero to laughe very heartily, and perceiving how swiftly the day ran on in his course, he saide unto her. Beleeve me Madame Helena, you have so conjured me by mine endeered Ladie and Mistresse, that I am no longer able to deny you; wherefore, tell me where your garments are, and I will bring them to you, that you may come downe from the Turret. She beleeving his promise, tolde him where she had hid them, and Reniero departing from the Tower, commanded his servant, not to stirre thence: but to abide still so neere it, as none might get entrance there till his returning. Which charge was no sooner given to his man, but hee went to the house of a neere neighboring friend, where he dined well, and afterward laid him downe to sleepe.
In the meane while, Madame Helena remaining still on the Tower, began to comfort her selfe with a little vaine hope, yet sighing and weeping incessantly, seating her selfe so well as shee could, where any small shelter might yeelde the least shade, in expectation of the Schollers returning: one while weeping, then againe hoping, but most of all despairing, by his so long tarrying away with her Garments; so that beeing over-wearied with anguish and long watching, she fell into a little slumbering. But the Sunne was so extreamly hot, the houre of noone being already past, that it meerly parched her delicate body, and burnt her bare head so violently: as not onely it seared all the flesh it touched; but also cleft and chinkt it strangely, beside blisters and other painfull scorchings in the flesh which hindred her sleeping, to help her self (by all possible means) waking. And the Turret being covered with Lead, gave the greater addition to her torment; for, as she removed from one place to another, it yeelded no mitigation to the burning heate, but parched and wrinkled the flesh extraordinarily, even as when a piece of parchment is throwne into the fire, and recovered out againe, can never be extended to his former forme.
Moreover, she was so grievously payned with the head-ake, as it seemed to split in a thousand pieces, whereat there needed no great the Lead of the Turret being so exceedingly hot, that it affoorded not the least defence against it, or any repose to qualifie the torment: but drove her still from one place to another, in hope of ease, but none was there to be found.
Nor was there any winde at all stirring, whereby to asswage the Sunnes violent scalding, or keepe away huge swarmes of Waspes, Hornets, and terrible byting Flyes, which vexed her extreamely, feeding on those parts of her body, that were rifte and chinkt, like crannies in a mortered wall, and pained her like so many points of pricking Needles, labouring still with her hands to beate them away, but yet they fastned on one place or other, and afflicted her in grievous manner, causing her to curse her owne life, hir amorous friend, but (most of all) the Scholler, that promised to bring her Garments, and as yet returned not. Now began she to gaze upon every side about her, to espy some labouring Husbandmen in the fields, to whom she might call or cry out for helpe, not fearing to discover her desperate condition: but Fortune therein also was adverse to her, because the heats extreamity, had driven all the village out of the fields, causing them to feede their Cattle about theyr owne houses, or in remote and shadie Valleyes: so that shee could see no other creatures to comfort her, but Swannes swimming in the River of Arno, and wishing her selfe there a thousand times with them, for to coole the extreamity of her thirst, which so much the more encreased, onely by the sight thereof, and utterly disabled of having any.
She saw beside in many places about her, goodly Woods, fayre coole shades, and Country houses here and there dispersed; which added the greater violence to hir affliction, that her desires (in all these) could no way be accomplished. What shall I say more concerning this disastrous Lady? The parching beames of the Sunne above her, the scalding heat of the Lead beneath her, the Hornets and Flyes everie way stinging her, had made such an alteration of her beautifull bodie: that, as it checkt and controlled the precedent nights darkenesse, it was now so metamorphosed with rednesse, yea, and blood issuing forth in infinite places, as she seemed (almost) loathsome to looke on, continuing still in this agonie of torment, quite voyde of all hope, and rather expecting death, then any other comfort.
Reniero, when some three houres of the afternoone were overpast, awaked from sleeping: and remembring Madame Helena, he went to see in what estate she was; as also to send his servant unto dinner, because he had fasted all that day. She perceyving his arrivall, being altogether weake, faint, and wonderously over-wearied, she crept on her knees to a corner of the Turret, and calling to him, spake in this manner. Reniero, thy revenge exceedeth al manhoode and respect: For, if thou wast almost frozen in my Court, thou hast roasted me all day long on this Tower, yea, meerly broyled my poore naked bodie, beside starving mee thorough want of Food and drinke. Be now then so mercifull (for manhoods sake) as to come uppe hither, and inflict that on me, which mine owne hands are not strong enough to do, I meane the ending of my loathed and wearisome life, for I desire it beyond all comfort else, and I shall honour thee in the performance of it. If thou deny me this gracious favour; at least send me uppe a glasse of Water, onely to moisten my mouth, which my teares (being all meerly dried up) are not able to doe, so extreame is the violence of the Sunnes burning heate.
Well perceived the Scholler, by the weaknesse of her voyce, and scorching of her body by the Suns parching beames, that shee was brought now to great extremity: which sight, as also her humble intercession, began to touch him with some compassion, nevertheles, thus he replied. Wicked woman, my hands shal be no means of thy death, but make use of thine owne, if thou be so desirous to have it: and as much water shalt thou get of me to asswage thy thirst, as thou gavest me fire to comfort my freezing, when thou wast in the luxurious heat of thy immodest desires, and I wel-neere frozen to death with extremity of cold. Pray that the Evening may raine downe Rosewater on thee, because that in the River of Arno is not good enough for thee: for as little pitty doe I take on thee now, as thou didst extend compassion to me then.
Miserable Woman that I am, answered Helena; Why did the heavens bestow beautie on mee, which others have admired and honoured, and yet (by thee) is utterly despised? More cruell art thou then any savage Beast; thus to vexe and torment mee in such mercilesse manner. What greater extreamity couldst thou inflict on me, if I had bin the destruction of all thy Kindred, and lefte no one man living of thy race? I am verily perswaded, that more cruelty cannot be used against a Traitor, who was the subversion of an whole Cittie, then this tyranny of thine, roasting me thus in the beames of the Sun, and suffering my body to be devoured with Flies, without so small a mercie, as to give mee a little coole water, which murtherers are permitted to have, being condemned by justice, and led to execution: yea Wine also, if they request it.
But, seeing thou art so constant in thy pernitious resolve, as neither thine owne good Nature, nor this lamentable sufferance in me, are able to alter thee: I will prepare my self for death patiently, to the end, that Heaven may be mercifull to my soul, and reward thee justly, according to thy cruelty. Which words being ended, she withdrew her selfe towards the middest of the Tarras, despairing of escaping (with life)
from the heates violence; and not once onely, but infinite times beside (among her other grievous extreamities) she was ready to dye with drought, bemoaning incessantly her dolorous condition.
By this time the day was well neere spent, and night beganne to hasten on apace: when the Scholler (immagining that he afflicted her sufficiently) tooke her Garments, and wrapping them up in his mans Cloake, went thence to the Ladies house, where he found Ancilla the Waiting-woman sitting at the doore, sad and disconsolate for her Ladies long absence, to whom thus he spake. How now Ancilla? Where is thy Lady and Mistris? Alas Sir (quoth she) I know not. I thought this morning to have found her in her bed, as usually I was wont to do, and where I left her yesternight at our parting: but there she was not, nor in any place else of my knowledge, neyther can I imagine what is become of her, which is to me no meane discomfort.
But can you (Sir) say any thing of her? Ancilla, said he, I would thou hadst bin in her company, and at the same place where now she is, that some punishment for thy fault might have falne uppon thee, as already it hath done on her. But beleeve it assuredly, that thou shalt not freely escape from my fingers, till I have justly paide thee for thy paines, to teach thee to abuse any Gentleman, as thou didst me.
Having thus spoken, hee called to his servant, saying. Give her the Garments, and bid her go looke her Lady, if she will. The Servingman fulfilled his Masters command, and Ancilla having receyved her Ladies cloaths, knowing them perfectly, and remembring (withall) what had bin said: she waxed very doubtfull, least they had slaine her, hardly refraining from exclaiming on them, but that greefe and heavie weeping overcame her; so that uppon the Schollers departing, she ranne in all hast with the garments towardes the Tower.
Upon this fatall and unfortunate day to Madame Helena, it chanced, that a Clowne or Countrey Peazant belonging to her Farme or Dairy house, having two of his young Heyfers wandred astray, and he labouring in diligent search to finde them: within a while after the Schollers departure, came to seeke them in Woods about the Tower, and, notwithstanding all his crying and calling for his beasts, yet he heard the Ladies greevous moanes and lamentations. Wherefore, he cryed out so lowd as he could, saying: Who is it that mourneth so aloft on the Tower? Full well she knew the voyce of her peazant, and therefore called unto him, and sayd in this maner.
Go (quoth she) I pray thee for my Waiting-woman Ancilla, and bid her make some meanes to come up hither to me. The Clowne knowing his Lady, sayde. How now Madame? Who hath carried you up there so high? Your Woman Ancilla hath sought for you all this day, yet no one could ever have immagined you to bee there. So looking about him, he espyed the two sides of the Ladder, which the Scholler had pulled in sunder; as also the steppes, which he had scattered thereabout; placing them in due order againe as they should bee, and binding them fast with Withies and Willowes.
By this time Ancilla was come thither, who so soone as shee was entred into the Tower, could not refrain from teares and complaints, beating her hands each against other, and crying out. Madam, deare Lady and Mistresse! Alas, Wher are you? So soone as she heard the tongue of Ancilla, she replyed (so well as she could) saying: Ah my sweet Woman, I am heere aloft uppon the Tarras; weepe not, neyther make any noyse, but quickely bring me some of my Garments. When shee heard her answer in such comfortable maner, she mounted up the Ladder, which the peazant had made very firme and strong, holding it fast for her safer ascending; by which meanes she went up on the Tarras. Beholding her Ladie in so strange a condition, resembling no humane body, but rather the trunke of a Tree halfe burned, lying flat on her face, naked, scorched and strangely deformed: shee beganne to teare the lockes of her owne hayre, raving and raging in as pittifull manner, as if her Ladie had beene quite dead. Which storming tempest, Madame Helena soone pacified, entreating her to use silence, and helpe to put on her garments.
Having understood by her, that no one knew of her being there, but such as brought her cloathes, and the poore peazant, attending there still to do her any service: shee became the better comforted, entreating them by all meanes, that it might bee concealed from any further discovery, which was on eyther side, most faithfullie protested.
The poore Clowne holpe to beare downe his Lady uppon his backe, because the Ladder stood not conveniently enough for her descending, neither were her limbes plyable for her owne use, by reason of their rifts and smarting. Ancilla following after, and being more respective of her Lady, then her owne security in descending, missing the step in the midst of the Ladder, fell downe to the ground, and quite brake her legge in the fall, the paine whereof was so greevous to her, that she cried and roared extraordinarily, even like a Lyon in the desert.
When the Clowne had set his Lady safe on a faire green banke, he returned to see what the waiting woman ayled, and finding her leg to be quite broken: he caried her also to the same banke, and there seated her by her Lady: who perceiving what a mischance had hapned, and she (from whom she expected her onely best helpe) to bee now in far greater necessity her selfe: shee lamented exceedingly, complaining on Fortunes cruel malice toward her, in thus heaping one misery upon another, and never ceasing to torment her, especially now in the conclusion of all, and when shee thought all future perils to be past.
Now was the Sun upon his setting, when the poore honest country-man, because darke night should not overtake them, conducted the Lady home to his owne house: and gaining the assistance of his two brethren and wife, setting the waiting-woman in a Chaire, thither they brought her in like manner. And questionles, there wanted no diligence and comfortable language, to pacifie the Ladyes continuall lamentations. The good wife, led the Lady into hir own poore lodging, where (such cates as they had to feede on) lovingly she set before her: conveying her afterward into her owne bed, and taking such good order, that Ancilla was carried in the night time to Florence, to prevent all further ensuing danger, by reason of her legs breaking.
Madame Helena, to colour this misfortune of her owne: as also the great mishap of her woman: forged an artificiall and cunning tale, to give some formall apparance of hir being in the Tower, perswading the poore simple Country people, that in a straunge accident of thunder and lightning, and by the illusions of wicked spirits, all this adventure hapned to her. Then Physitians were sent for; who, not without much anguish and affliction to the Ladie (by reason of her fleshes flaying off, with the Medicines and Emplaysters applyed to the body) was glad to suffer whatsoever- they did, beside falling into a very dangerous Feaver; out of which she was not recovered in a long while after, but continued in daily dispayre of her life; beside other accidents hapning in her time of Physicke, utterly unavoydable in such extreamities: and hardly had Ancilla her legge cured.
By this unexpected pennance imposed on Madame Helena, she utterly forgot her amorous friend; and (from thence forward) carefully kept her selfe from fond loves allurements, and such scornfull behaviour, wherein she was most disorderly faulty. And Reniero the Scholler, understanding that Ancilla had broken her leg, r , which he reputed as a punishment sufficient for her, held himselfe satisfyed, because neither the Mistresse nor her Maide, could now make any great boast, of his nights hard entertainment, and so concealed all matters else.
Thus a wanton-headed Lady, could finde no other subject to worke her mocking folly on, but a learned Scholler, of whom shee made no more respect, then any other ordinary man. Never remembring, that such men are expert (I cannot say all, but the greater part of them) to helpe the frenzie of foolish Ladies, that must injoy their loose desires, by Negromancy, and the Divelles meanes. Let it therefore (faire Ladies) be my loving admonition to you, to detest all unwomanly mocking and scorning, but more especiallie to Schollers.[ Hide Seventh Novell ]
Greevous, and full of compassion, appeared the hard Fortunes of Madame Helena to be, having much descontented, and (well-neere) wearied all the Ladies in hearing them recounted. But because they were very justly inflicted upon her, and according as (in equity) shee had deserved, they were the more moderate in their commisseration: howbeit, they reputed the Scholler not onely over-obstinate, but also too strict, rigorous and severe. Wherefore, when Madame Pampinea had finished hir Novell, the Queene gave command to Madame Fiammetta, that she should follow next with her discourse; whereto shee shewing obedience, thus beganne.
Because it appeareth in my judgement (faire Ladyes) that the Schollers cruelty hath much displeased you, making you more melancholly then this time requireth: I holde it therefore very convenient, that your contristed spirits should be chearfully revived, with matter more pleasing and delightfull. And therefore, I mean to report a Novell of a certaine man, who too an injury done him, in much milder manner, and revenged his wrong more moderately, then the furious incensed Scholler did. Whereby you may comprehend, that it is sufficient for any man, and so he ought to esteeme it, to serve another with the same sawce, which the offending party caused him first to taste of: without coveting any stricter revenge, then agreeth with the quality of the injury received.
Know then (Gracious assembly) that, as have heretofore heard, there lived not long since in Sienna, two young men, of honest parentage and equall condition, neither of the best, nor yet the meanest calling in the City: the one being named Spinelloccio Tavena, and the other tearmed Zeppa di Mino, their houses Neighbouring together in the streete Camollia. Seldome the one walked abroade without the others Company, and their houses allowed equall welcome to them both; so that by outward demonstrations, and inward mutuall affection, as far as humane capacity had power to extend, they lived and loved like two Brethren, they both beeing wealthy, and married unto two beautifull women.
It came to passe, that Spinelloccio, by often resorting to the house of Zeppa, as well in his absence, as when he abode at home; beganne to glance amorous looks on Zeppaes wife, and pursued his unneighbourly purpose in such sort: that hee being the stronger perswader, and she (belike) too credulous in beleeving, or else overfeeble in resisting; from private imparlance, they fell to action; and continued their close fight a long while together, unseene and without suspition, no doubt to their equall joy and contentment. But, whether as a just punishment, for breaking so loving a league of friendship and neighbour-hood, or rather a fatall infliction, evermore attending on the closest Cuckoldry, their felicity still continuing in this kinde: it fortuned on a day, Zeppa abiding within doors, contrary to the knowledge of his wife, Spinelloccio came to enquire for him, and she answering (as she verily supposed) that he was gon abroad: uppe they went both together into the Hall, and no bodie being there to hinder what they intended, they fell to their wonted recreation without any feare, kissing and embracing as Lovers use to do.
Zeppa seeing all this, spake not one word, neither made any noise at all; but kept himselfe closely hidden, to observe the yssue of this amorous conflict. To be briefe, he saw Spinelloccio goe with his wife into the Chamber, and make the doore fast after them, whereat he could have beene angry, which he held to be no part of true wisedome. For he knew well enough, that to make an out crie in this case, or otherwise to reveale this kinde of injury, it could no way make it lesse, but rather give a greater addition of shame and scandall: he thought this no course for him to take; wiser considerations entred his braine, to have this wrong fully revenged, yet with such a discreete and orderly carriage, as no neighbours knowledge should by any meanes apprehend it, or the least sig of discontent in himselfe blabbe it, because they were two dangerous evils.
Many notable courses whee.ed about his conceit, every one promising fairely, and ministring meanes of formall apparance, yet one (above the rest) wonne his absolute allowance, which he intended to prosecute as best he might. In which resolution, he kept still very close, so long as Spinelloccio was with his Wife; but hee being gone, he went into the Chamber, where he found his wife, amending the forme of her head attyre, which Spinelloccio had put into a disordred fashion. Wife (quoth be) what art thou doing? Why? Do you not see Husband? answered she. Yes that I do wife, replied Zeppa, and something else happened to my sight, which I could wish that I had not seene. Rougher Language growing betweene them, of his avouching, and her as stout denying, with defending her cause over-weakely, against the manifest proofes both of eye and eare: at last she fell on her knees before him, weeping incessantly, and no excuses now availing, she confest her long acquaintance with Spinelloccio, and most humbly entreated him to forgive her. Uppon the which penitent confession and submission, Zeppa thus answered.
Wife, if inward contrition be answerable to thy outward seeming sorrow, then I make no doubt, but faithfully thou dost acknowledge thine owne evill dooing: for which, if thou expectest pardon of me; determine then to fulfill effectually, such a busines as I must enjoyne, and thou performe. I command thee to tell Spinelloccio, that to morrow morning, about nine of the clocke, we being both abroad walking, he must finde some apt occasion to leave my company, and then come hither to visit thee. When he is here, sodainly will I returne home, and upon thy hearing of my entraunce: to save his owne credite, and thee from detection, thou shalt require him to enter this Chest, untill such time as I am gone forth againe; which he doing, for both your safeties, so soon as he is in the chest, take the key and locke him up fast. When thou hast effected this, then shall I acquaint thee with the rest remaining, which also must be done by thee, without dread of the least harme to him or thee, because there is no malicious meaning in me, but such as (I am perswaded) thou canst not justly mislike. The wife, to make some satisfaction for her offence committed promised that she would performe it, and so she did.
On the morrow morning, the houre of nine being come, when Zeppa and Spinelloccio were walking abroad together, Spinelloccio remembring his promise unto his Mistresse, and the clocke telling him the appointed houre, hee saide to Zeppa. I am to dine this day with an especiall friend of mine, who I would be loath should tarry for my comming; and therefore holde my departure excused. How now? answered Zeppa, the time for dinner is yet farre enough off, wherefore then should we part so soone? Yea but Zeppa, replied Spinelloccio, wee have weighty matters to confer on before dinner, which will require three houres space at the least, and therefore it behoveth me to respect due time.
Spinelloccio being departed from Zeppa (who followed faire and softly after him)
being come to the house, and kindly welcommed by the wife: they were no sooner gone up the staires, and entering in at the Chamber doore; but the Woman heard her Husband cough, and also his comming up the staires. Alas deare Spinelloccio (quoth she) what shall we do? My Husband is comming uppe, and we shall be both taken tardie, step into this Chest, lye downe there and stirre not, till I have sent him forth againe, which shall be within a very short while. Spinelloccio was not a little joyfull for her good advice; downe in the Chest lay he, and she lockt him in: by which time Zeppa was entred the Chamber. Where are you Wife? said he, (speaking so loud, as hee in the Chest might heare him) What, is it time to go to dinner? It will be anon Sir, answered she, as yet it is overearly but seeing you are come, the more hast shall be made, and every thing will be ready quickly.
Zeppa, sitting downe upon the Chest, wherein Spinelloccio lay not a little affrighted, speaking stil aloud, as formerly he did: Come hither Wife (quoth he) how shall we do for some good companie to dine with us? Mine honest kinde neighbour Spinelloccio is not at home, because he dineth forth to day with a deare friend of his, by which meanes, his wife is left at home alone: give her a call out at our Window, and desire her to come dine with us: for we two can make no merry Musicke, except some more come to make up the consort.
His Wife being very timorous, yet diligent to doe whatsoever he commanded, so prevailed with the Wife of Spinelloccio: that she came to them quickely, and so much the rather, because her Husband dined abroad. Shee being come up into the Chamber, Zeppa gave her most kinde entertainment, taking her gently by the hand, and winking on his Wife, that she should betake her selfe to the kitchin, to see dinner speedily prepared, while he sat conversing with his neighbour in the Chamber.
His wife being gone, he shut the doore after her; which the new-come Neighbour perceyving, she sayde. Our blessed Lady defend me. Zeppa, What is your meaning in this? Have you caused me to come hither to this intent? Is this the love you beare to Spinelloccio, and your professed loyalty in friendshippe? Zeppa, seating her downe on the Chest, wherein her Husband was inclosed, entreating her patience, thus began. Kinde and loving Neighbor, before you adventure too farre in anger, vouchsafe to heare what I shall tell you.
I have loved, and still doe love, Spinelloccio as my brother, but yesterday (albeit he knoweth it not) I found, the honest trust I reposed in him, deserved no other, or better recompence, but even to be bold with my wife, in the selfesame manner as I am, and as hee ought to do with none but you. Now, in regard of the love which I beare him, I intend to be no otherwise revenged on him, but in the same kinde as the offence was committed. He hath bin more then familiar with my wife. I must borrow the selfe-same courtesie of you, which in equity you cannot deny mee, weighing the wrong you have sustained by my wife. Our injuries are alike, in your Husband to me, and in my wife to you: let then their punishment and ours be alike also; as they, so we; for in this case there can be no juster revenge. The Woman hearing this, and perceiving the manifolde confirmations thereof, protested (on solemne oath) by Zeppa; hir beliefe grew setled, and thus she answered. My loving neighbor Zeppa, seeing this kinde of revenge is (in meere justice) imposed on mee, and ordained as a due scourge, as well to the breach of friendship and neighbourhood, as abuse of his true and loyall wife: I am the more willing to consent: alwaies provided, that it be no imbarrement of love betweene your wife and mee, albeit I have good reason to alledge, that she began the quarrell first: and what I do is but to right my wrong, as any other woman of spirit would do: Afterwards, we may the more pardon one another. For breach more easi of peace (answered Zeppa) between my wife and you, take my honest word for your warrant. Moreover, in requitall of this favour to mee, I will bestowe a deare and precious jewell on you, excelling all the rest which you have beside.
In delivering these words, he sweetly kissed and embraced her, as she sat on the Chest wherein her husband lay: now, what they did else beside, in recompence of the wrong received, I leave to your imagination, as rather deserving silence, then immodest blabbing. Spinelloccio, being all this while in the Chest, hearing easily all the words which Zeppa had uttered, the answer of his wife, as also what Musicke they made over his head: you may guesse in what a case he was, his heart being ready to split with rage, and, but that hee stood in feare of Zeppa, he would have railde and exclaimed on his wife, as thus hee lay shut up in the Chest. But entering into better consideration, that so great al injury was first begun by himselfe, and Zeppa did no more, then in reason and equity he might well do (having evermore carried himselfe like a kinde neighbour and frend towards him, without the least offer of distaste) he faithfully resolved, to be a firmer friend to Zeppa then formerly hee had bin, if it might be embraced and accepted.
Delights and pleasures, be they never so long in contenting and continuance, yet they come to a period and conclusion at last: So Zeppa, having ended his amorous combate, and over the head of his perfidious friend, thought himselfe sufficiently revenged. But now, in consideration of a further promise made on the bargaine; Spinelloccioes wife challengeth the jewel, then which kind of recompence, nothing can be more welcom to women. Heereupon, Zeppa calling for his owne wife, commanded her to open the Chest; which shee did, and he merrily smiling, saide. Well wife, you have given mee a Cake insted of bread, and you shal lose nothing for your labour. So Spinelloccio comming forth of the Chest, it requireth a better witte then mine, to tell you, which of them stood most confounded with shame, either Spinelloccio seeing Zeppa, and knowing well enough what he had done: or the woman beholding her husband, who easily heard all their familiar conference, and the action thereupon so deservedly performed.
See neighbour, is not this your dearest Jewell? Having kept it awhile in my wives custody; according to my promise, here I deliver it you. Spinellcccio being glad of his deliverance out of the Chest, albeit not a little ashamed of himselfe; without using many impertinent words saide. Zeppa, our wrongs are equally requited on each other, and therefore I allow thy former speeches to my Wife, that thou wast my friend, as I am the like to thee, and so I pray thee let us still continue. For nothing else is now to bee divided betweene us, seeing we have shared alike in our wives, which none knowing but our selves, let it be as closely kept to our selves. Zeppa was wel pleased with the motion, and so all foure dined lovingly together, without any variance or discontentment. And thence forward, each of the Women had two Husbands, as either Husband enjoyed two Wives, without further contention or debate.[ Hide Eight Novell ]
After that the Ladies had a while considered, on the communication betweene the two Wives of Sienna, and the falshood in friendship of their Husbands: the Queene, who was the last to recount her Novell, without offering injurie to Dioneus, began to speake thus.
The reward for a precedent wrong committed, which Zeppa retorted upon Spinelloccio, was answerable to his desert, and no more then equity required, in which respect, I am of opinion, that such men ought not to be over-sharpely reproved, as do injurie to him, who seeketh for it, and justly should have it, althogh Madam Pampinea (not long since) avouched the contrary.
Now, it evidently appeareth, that Spinelloccio well deserved what was done to him, and I purpose to speake of another, who needs would seeke after his owne disgrace.
The rather to confirme my former speeches, that they which beguile such wilfull foolish men; are not to bee blamed, but rather commended. And he unto whom the shame was done, was a Physitian, which came from Bologna to Florence; and returned thither againe like unto a Beast, notoriously baffulled and disgraced.
It is a matter well knowne- to us, and (almost) observed day by day, that divers of our Citizens, when they returne from their studying at Bologna: one becommeth an Advocate, another a Physitian, and a third a Notarie, with long and large gowns, some of Scarlet, and hoods furred with Minever, beside divers other great apparances, succeeding effectually daily in their severall kinds. Among whom, there returned (not long since) thence, one Master. Simon da Villa, more rich in possessions left him by his parents, then anie knowledge thereto obtained: yet cloathed in Scarlet, with his Miniver hood, and styled a Doctor of Physicke, which title hee onely bestowed on himselfe, and tooke a goodly house for his dwelling, in the street which wee commonly call La via del Cocomero. This Master Doctor Simon, being thus newly come thither, among other notable qualities in him, had one more especial then any of the rest, namely, to know the names and conditions of such persons, as daily passed by his doore, and what professions they were of, wherby any likelyhood might be gathered of needing his helpe, and being his patients, observing them all with very vigilant care.
But, among all the rest by him thus warily noted, he most observed two Painters, of whom we have heeretofore twice discoursed, Bruno and Buffalmaco, who walked continually together, and were his neere dwelling neighbors. The matter which most of al he noted in them, was; that they lived merrily, and with much lesse care, then any else in the Cittie beside, and verily they did so in deede. Wherefore, he demanded of divers persons, who had good understanding of them both, of what estate and condition they were. And hearing by every one, that they were but poore men and Painters: he greatly mervailed, how it could be possible for them, that they should live so jocondly, and in such poverty. It was related to him further beside, that they were men of a quicke and ingenious apprehension, whereby hee politikely imagined, that theyr poore condition could not so well maintaine them; without some courses else, albeit not publiquely knowne unto men, yet redounding to their great commoditie and profite. In which regard, he grew exceeding desirous, by what meanes he might become acquainted, and grow into familiarity with them both, or any of them, at the least: wherein (at the length) he prevailed, and Bruno proved to be the man.
Now Bruno plainly perceiving (within a short while of this new begun acquaintance) that the Physitian was a Loggerhead, and meerely no better then a Gregorian Animall: he beganne to have much good pastime with him, by telling him strange and incredible Tales, such as none but a Coxcombe would give credit too; yet they delighted Doctor Dunce extraordinarily, and Brunoes familiarity was so highly pleasing to him, that he was a daily guest at dinner and supper with him, and hee was not meanly proud of enjoying his company. One day, as they sate in familiar conference together, he told Bruno that he wondred not a little at him and Buffalmaco, they being both so poore people, yet lived far more jovially then Lords, and therefore desired to understand, by what secret meanes they compassed such mirthful maintenance. Bruno, hearing the Doctors demaund, and perceiving that it savoured more of the foole, then any the very least taste of wisedome: smiled unto himselfe, and determined to returne him such an answere, as might be fitting for his folly, whereupon, thus he replied.
Beleeve me Master Doctor, I would not impart to many people, what private helpes we have for our maintenance: but yet I dare boldly acquaint you therewith, in regard you are one of our most intimate friends, and of such secrecie, as (I know) you will not reveale it to any. True it is, that mine honest neighbor and my selfe, do leade our lives in such merry manner as you see, and better then all the world is aware of, for I cannot imagine you to bee so ignorant, but are certainly perswaded: that if we had no better means, then our poore manuall trade and profession; we might sit at home with bread and water, and be nothing so lively spirited as wee are. Yet Sir, I would not have you to conceive, that wee do eyther rob or steale, or use any other unlawfull courses: onely we travayle to Corsica, from whence we bring (without the least prejudice to anie other) all things we stand in need of, or whatsoever wee can desire. Thus do we maintaine our selves well and honestly, and live in this mirthfull disposition.
Master Doctor hearing this Discourse, and beleeving it constantly, without any further instruction or intelligence: became possessed with verie much admiration, and had the most earnest desire in the world, to know what this Travailing to Corsica might meane: entreating Bruno with very great instances, to tell him what it was, and made many protestations never to disclose it to anie one. How now Master Doctor? answered Bruno, What a strange motion do you make to mee? It is too great a secret, which you desire to know, yea, a matter of mine owne ruine, and an utter expulsion out of this Worlde, with condemnation into the mouth of Lucifer da San Gallo, if any man whatsoever should know it from me, wherefore I pray you to urge it no more. O my deer and honest neighbour Bruno (quoth the Doctor) assure thy selfe upon my soul, that whatsoever thou revealest to me, shall be under seale from all, but onely our selves. Fie, fie Master Doctor, answered Bruno, you are too pressing and importunate. So sitting smiling to himselfe, shaking his head, and beating his breast, as if hee were in some straunge distraction of minde, stamping with his feete, and beating his Fiste oftentimes on the Table, at ast he started uppe, and spake in this manner.
Ah Master Doctor, the love I be to your capricious and rarely circumcised experience, and likewise the confidence I repose in your scrutinous taciturnitie, are both of such mighty and prevailing power as I cannot conceale any thing from you, which you covet to know. And therefore, if you wil sweare unto me by the crosse of Monteson, that never (as you have already faithfully promised) you will disclose a secret so admirable; I will relate it unto you, and not otherwise. The Doctor sware, and sware againe, and then Bruno thus began.
Know then my learned and judicious Doctor, that it is not long time since, when there lived in this Citie of ours, a man very excellent in the Art of Nigromancie, who named himselfe Michale Scoto, because he was a Scottishman borne, of many woorthy Gentlemen (very few of them being now living) hee was much honoured and respected. When he grew desirous to depart from hence, upon their earnest motion and entreaty; he left here two of his Schollers behinde him, men of absolute skill and experience: giving them especial charge and command, to do all possible services they could devise, for those Gentlemen who had so highly honoured him. The two famous Schollers, were very helpefull to those Gentlemen, in divers of their amorous occasions, and verie many other matters besides.
Not long after, they finding the Citie, and behaviour of the people sufficiently pleasing to them; they resolved on their continuance heere, entering into a league of love and friendshippe with divers, never regarding, whether they were Gentlemen, or no, or distinguishing the poore from the rich: but only in being conforme to their complexions, sociable and fit for friendship.
They created a kinde Society, consisting of about five and twenty men, who should meete together twice in a moneth, and in a place reputed convenient for them: where being so assembled, every man uttered his minde to those two Schollers, in such cases as they most desired, to have wherwith they were all satisfied the self-same night. It came so to passe, that Buffalmaco and I, grew into acquaintance with those two worthy Schollers, and our private familiarity together proved so prosperous, that we were admitted into the same Society, and so have ever since continued. Now Sir, I am to tell you matter deserving admiration, and which (in very good judgements) would seeme to exceed all beleefe.
For, at every time when we were assembled together: you are not able to imagine, what sumptuous hangings of Tapistrie, did adorne the Hall where we sate at meate, the Tables covered in such Royall manner, waited on by numberless Noble and goodly attendants, both Women and Men, serving readily, at each mans command of the company. The Basins, Ewers, Pots, Flaggons, and all the vessels else which stood before, and for the service of our diet, being composed onely of Gold and Silver, and out of no worse did we both eate and drinke: the viands being very rare and dainty, abounding in plenty and variety, according to the appetite of everie person, as nothing could be wished for, but it was instantly obtained.
In good sadnesse Sir, I am not able to remember and tell you (within the compasse of a thousand yeares) what, and how manie severall kindes of Musicall Instruments, were continually played on before us; what multiplicity of Waxe lights burned in all partes of the roomes; neither the excessive store of rich Drugs, Marchpanes, Comfites, and rare Banquetting stuffe, consumed there at one Feasting, wherein there wanted no bounty of the best and purest wines. Nor do I (Master Doctor) repute you so weakly witted, as to think, that in the time of our being thus assembled there, any of us al were cloathed in such simple and meane Garments, as ordinarily are worne in the streets on mens bodies, or any so silly as the verie best you have: No Sir, not any one man among us, but appeared by his apparrell, equall to the greatest Emperour on the earth, his robe most sumptuously imbroidered with precious stones, Pearles, and Carbuncles, as the world affoordeth not the like. But above all the rest, the delights and pleasures there, are beyond my capacity to expresse, or (indeede) any comparison: as namely, store of goodly and beautifull women, brought thither from all parts of the world; alwayes provided, if men bee desirous of their company: but for your easier comprehension, I will make some briefe relation of them to you, according as I heard them there named.
There is the great Lady of Barbanicchia; the Queene of Baschia; the Wife to the great Soldane, the Empresse of Osbeccho; the Ciancianfera of Norniera; the Semistante of Berlinzona; and the Scalpedra of Narsia. But why do I breake my braine, in numbering up so many to you? All the Queenes of the world are there, even so farre as to the Schinchimurra of Prester John, that hath a horne in the midst of her posteriores, albeit not visible to every eye.
Now I am further that after we have tasted a Cup of precious Wine, fed on a few delicate Comfits, and danced a dance or two to the rare Musicke: every one taketh a Lady by the hand, of whom he pleaseth to make his election, and she conducteth him to her Chamber, in very grave and gracious manner. Concerning the Chambers there, each of them resembleth a Paradise to looke on, they are so faire and goodly; and no lesse odorifferous in smell, then the sweetest perfumes in your Apothecaries shoppes, or the rare compounds of Spices, when they are beaten in an open Morter. And as for the Beds, they are infinitely richer, then the verie costliest belonging to the Duke of Venice: yet (in such) each man is appointed to take his rest, the Musicke of rare Cymbals lasting all night long, much better to be by you considered, then in my rude eloquence expressed.
But of all those rich and sumptuous Beds (if pride of mine owne opinion do not deceive me) them two provided for Buffalmaco and me, had hardly any equall: he having the Queene of France as his Lady and Mistresse, and I, the renowned Queene of England, the onely two choise beauties of the whole World, and wee appeared so pleasing in their eyes, as they would have refused the greatest Monarkes on the earth, rather then to bee rejected by us. Now therefore, you may easily consider with your selfe, what great reason we have to live more merrily, then any other men can doe: in regard we enjoy the gracious favour of two such Royall Queenes, receyving also from them (whensoever wee please to commaund them) a thousand or two thousand Florines at the least, which are both truly and duly sent us. Enjoying thus the benefit of this high happinesse, we that are companions of this Society, do tearme it in our vulgar Language, The Pyrats voyage to Corsica. Because, as Rovers or Pyrats robbe and take away the goodes of such as they meete withall, even so do we: only there remaineth this difference betweene us, that they never restore what they have taken: which we do immediately afterward, whether it be required or no. And thus Master Doctor, as to my most endeered friend, I have now revealed the meaning of sayling to Corsica, after the manner of our private Pyracie, and how important the close retention of the voiage is, you are best able your selfe to judge: In which regarde, remember your Oathes and faithfull promises, or else I am undone for ever.
Our worthy wise Doctor, whose best skill scarsely extended so farre, as to cure the itch in Children; gave such sound beleefe to the relation of Bruno, as any man could doe, to the most certaine truth of ife or death: having his desire immeasurably enflamed, to bee made a member of this straunge Societie, which hee more coveted, then any thing in the world beside, accounting it a felicity farre beyond all other.
Whereupon he answered Bruno, that it was no great matter of mervaile, if he lived so merily as he did, having such a singular supply, to avoide all necessities whatsoever: and very hardly could he refraine from immediate request, to be accepted into the company. But yet he thought fit to deferre it further, untill he had made Bruno more beholding to him, by friendly entertainments and other courtesies, when he might (with better hope) be bold to move the motion.
Well may you conceive, that nothing more hammerd in the Doctors head, then this rare voyage to Corsica, and Bruno was his daily guest at dinner and supper, with such extraordinary apparances of kindnesse and courtesie, as if the Physitian could not live, except he had the company of Bruno. Who seeing himselfe to bee so lovingly respected, and hating ingratitude, for favours so abundantly heaped on him: hee painted the whole story of Lent about his Hall, and an Agnus Dei fairely gilt, on the portall of his Chamber, as also a goodly Urinall on his street doore, to the end, that such as had neede of his counsell, might know where so judicious a Doctour dwelt. In a Gallery likewise by his Garden, he painted the furious Battaile betweene the Rats and Cats, which did (not a little) delight Master Doctor.
Moreover, at such times as Bruno had not supt with our Physitian, he would bee sure to tell him on the morrow, that the night passed, he had bin with the Company which he did wot of. And there (quoth he) the Queene of England having somewhat offended mee, I commanded, that the Gomedra, belonging to the Grand Cham of Tartaria, should be brought me, and instantly shee was. What may be the meaning of Gomedrabe? said the Doctor, I understand not those difficult names. I beleeve you Sir, answered Bruno, nor do I need to marvalle thereat: and yet I have heard Porcograsso speake, and also Vannacenna, and both unexperienced in our Language. You would say (replyed the Doctor) Hippocrates and Avicenna, who were two admirable Physitians. It may be so (said Bruno) and as hardly do I understand your names, as you mine: but Gomedra, in the Grand Chams language, signifies Empresse in ours. But had you once seene her Sir, she would make you forget all Physicall observations, your arguments, receits, and medicines, onely to be in her heavenly presence, which words he used (perceiving his forward longing) to enflame him the more. Not long after, as the doctor was holding the candle to Bruno, at the perfecting the bloody Battayle of the Cattes and Rattes, because he could never bee wearied in his Companie, and therefore was the more willing, to undergoe the office of the Candle-holder: he resolved to acquaint him with his minde, and being all alone by themselves, thus he began.
Bruno, as heaven knoweth, there is not this day any creature living, for whom I would gladly do more, then for thee, and the very least word of thy mouth, hath power to commaund mee to goe bare-footed, even from hence so farre as to Peretola, and account my labour well employed for thy sake: wherefore, never wonder at my continuall kindnesse towards thee, using thee as my Domesticke companion, and embracing thee as my bosome friend, and therefore I am the bolder in mooving one request unto thee. As thou well knowest, it is no long while since, when thou diddest acquaint me with the behaviour of the Corsicane Roving Company, to be one in so rare and excellent a Society, such hath bin my earnest longing ever since, as day nor night have I enjoyed anie rest, but should thinke my felicity beyond all compare, if I could be entertained in fellowship among you.
Nor is this desire of mine but upon great occasion, as thou thy selfe shalt perceive, if I prove accepted into your Societie, and let me then be made a mocking stocke for ever, if I cause not to come thither one of the most delicate young women, that ever anie eye beheld, and which I my selfe saw (not above a yeare since) at Cacavinciglia, on whom I bestowed my intirest affection, and (by the best Urinall that ever I gazed on) would have given her tenne faire Bologninaes, to yeeld the matter I moved to her, which yet I could not (by any meanes) compasse. Therefore, with all the flowing faculties of my soule I entreate thee, and all the very uttermost of my all indeede; to instruct me in those wayes and meanes, whereby I may hope to be a member of you. Which if thou dooest accomplish for me, and I may finde it effectually performed: I shall not onely be thy true and loyall friend for ever, but will honour thee beside, beyond all men living.
I know thee to bee a man of judgement, deepely informed in all well-grounded experience: thou seest what a propper, portly, and comely man I am, how fitly my legges are answerable to my body, my lookes amiable, lovely, and of Rosie colour: beside I am a Doctor of Physicke, of which profession (being only most expedient) I thinke you have not one in your Society. I have many commendable qualities in me, as, playing on divers instruments, exquisite in singing, and composing rare ditties, whereof I will instantly sing thee one. And so he began to sing.
Bruno was swolne so bigge with desire of laughter, that hee had scarsely any power to refraine from it: neverthelesse, he made the best meanes he could devise: and the Song being ended, the Physition saide. How now Bruno? What is thine opinion of my singing? Beleeve me Sir, replyed Bruno, the Vialles of Sagginali, will loose their very best times, in contending against you, so mirilifficially are the sweet accents of your voice heard. I tell thee truly Bruno (answered Master Doctor) thou couldst not by any possibility have beleeved it, if thou hadst not heard it. In good sadnes Sir (said Bruno) you speake most truly. I could (quoth the Doctor) sing thee infinite more beside, but at this time I must forbeare them. Let mee then further informe thee Bruno, that beside the compleat perfections thou seest in me, my father was a Gentleman, althogh he dwelt in a poore Country village, and by my mothers side, I am derived from them of Vallecchio. Moreover, as I have formerly shewn thee, I have a goodly Library of Bookes, yea, and so faire and costly garments, as few Physitians in Florence have the like. I protest to thee upon my faith, I have one gowne, which cost me (in readie money) almost an hundred poundes in Bagattinoes, and it is not yet above ten yeares old. Wherefore let me prevaile with thee, good Bruno, to worke so with the rest of thy friends, that I may bee one of your singular Society; and, by the honest trust thou reposest in mee, bee boldly sick whensoever thou wilt, my paines and Physicke shall be freely thine, without the payment of one single peny. Bruno hearing his importunate words, and knowing him (as all men else did beside) to be a man of more words then wit, saide. Master Doctor, snuffe the candle I pray you, and lend me a little more light with it hitherward, until I have finished the tailes of these Rats, and then I wil answer you.
When the Rats tailes were fully finished, Bruno declaring by outward behaviour, that he greatly distasted the matter mooved, thus answered. Worthy Master Doctor, the courtesies you have already extended towards me, and the bountifull favours promised beside, I know to be exceeding great, and farre beyond the compasse of any merit in me. But concerning your request, albeit in respect of your admired braine and Wisedome, it is of little or no moment at all; yet it appeareth over-mighty to mee, and there is not any man now living in the world, that hath the like Authoritie over me, and can more commaund me, then you (with one poore syllable) easily may doe: as well in regarde of my Love and Dutie, as also your singular and sententious speeches, able not onelie to make me breake a sound and setled resolution, but (almost) to move Mountaines out of their places, and the more I am in your Learned company, so much the faster am I lincked unto you, in immooveable affection, so farre am I in love with your admirable qualities. And had I no other reason, to affect you in such endeared manner, as I doe; yet because you are enamoured of so rare a beauty, as you have already related to me, it onely were a motive sufficient to compell me. But indeed I must need tell you, that I have not so much power in this case, as you (perhaps) do imagine, which barreth me from such forward readines, as otherwise needed not to be urged. Neverthelesse, having so solemnly ingaged your faith to me, and no way misdoubting your faithfull secrecy, I shall instruct you in some meanes to be observed; and it appeareth plainly to me, that being furnished with such plenty of Bookes, as you are, and other rich endowments, as you have before rehersed, you cannot but attaine to the full period of your longing desire.
Speake boldly thy minde Bruno, answered the Doctour: for, I perceive thou hast no perfect knowledge of me as yet, neither what an especiall gift I have of secrecy. Messer Gasparino da Salicete, when he was Judge and Potestat over the people of Forlini, made choise of mee (among infinite of his dearest friends) to acquaint with a secret of no meane moment. And such a faithfull Secretary he found me, as I was the onely man, that knew his mariage with Bergamino; why then should any distrust be made of me? If it be so as you say Sir (answered Bruno) your credit is the sounder, and I dare the better adventure on your fidelity: the meanes then which you are to worke by, I shall now direct you in.
We have alwayes in this noble Society of ours, a Captaine, and two Counsellors, which are changed at every six months end. And now at Christmas next (so neere drawing on) Buffalmaco shal be elected Captaine, and my selfe one of the Counsellers, for so it is already agreed on, and orderly set downe. Now, he that is Captain, may doe much more then any other can, and appoint matters as himselfe pleaseth. Wherefore I thinke it very expedient, that so soone as possibly you may, you procure acquaintance with Buffalmaco, entreating him with all respective courtesie. Hee is a man, who when he perceyveth you to be so wonderfully Wise and discreete, he will be immediatly in love with you: so, when you have your best senses about you, and your richest wearing Garments on (alwayes remembred, that your acquaintance first be fully confirmed) then never feare to urge your request, for he can have no power at all to denie you; because I have already spoken of you to him, and find him to stand affected unto you verie intirely: thus when you have begunne the businesse, leave me to deale with him in the rest.
Now trust me kinde friend Bruno, replyed the Physitian, I like your advice exceeding well. For, if hee be a man, that taketh delight to converse with men of skill and judgement, and you have made the way for his knowing me: he wil him thirst, and long to follow after mee, to understand the incredible eloquence flowing from me, and the rare composition of my Musicall Ditties, out of which he may learne no meane wisedome. When the matter was thus agreed on betweene them, Bruno departed thence, and acquainted Buffalmaco with everie circumstance: which made him thinke everie day a yeare, untill he might in the fooling of Mayster Doctoar, according to his owne fancie. Who beeing also as desirous on the other side, to make one in the Corsicane Voyage; could take no manner of rest either by day or night, till he was linked in friendship with Buffalmaco, which very quickely after hee compassed.
For now there wanted no costly dinners and suppers, with al delicates could be devised, for the entertainement of Buffalmaco and Bruno; who, like Guests very easie to be invited, where rich wines and good cheare are never wanting, needed little sending for, because his house was as familiar to them, as their owne. In the end, when the Physitian espyed an opportunitie apt for the purpose, he made the same request to Buffalmaco, as formerly hee had done to Bruno. Whereat Buffalmaco, sodainly starting, and looking frowningly on Bruno, as if he were extraordinarily incensed against him: clapping his hand furiously on the Table, he sayde. I sweare by the great God of Pasignano, that I can hardly refrayne from giving thee such a blow on the face, as should make thy Nose to fall at thy heeles: vile Traitor as thou art: for none beside thy selfe, could discover so rare and excellent a secret unto this famous Physitian. The Doctour, with very plausible and pleasing tearmes, excused the matter verie artificially; protesting, that another had revealed it unto him: and after many wise circumstantiall Allegations, at length hee prevailed so farre, that Buffalmaco was pacified; who afterwardes turning in kinde manner, thus hee beganne.
Master Doctour, you have lived both at Bologna, and heere in these partes with us, having (no doubt) sufficiently understoode, what it is to carry a close mouth, I meane the true Charracter of taciturnitie. Questionlesse, you never learned the A. B. C. as now foolish Ideots do, blabbing their lessons all about the towne, which is much better apprehended by rumination; and surely (if I be not much deceyved) your Nativity happened on a Sonday morning, Sol being at that time, Lord of the ascendent, joyned with Mercurie in a fierie Triplicitie. By such conference as I have had with Bruno, I conceyved (as he himselfe also did) that you were verie singular in Physicke onely: but it seemeth, your Studies reached a higher straine, for you have learned, and know verie skilfullie, how to steale mens hearts from them, yea, to bereave them of their verie soules, which I perceyve that you can farre better doe, then any man else living to my knowledge, only by your wise, witty, judicious, and more then meere Mercurian eloquence, such as I never heard before.
The Physitian interrupting him bashfully, turned himselfe unto Bruno, saying. Did not I tell thee this before? Observe what a notable thing it is, to speake well, and to frequent the company of the Wise. A thousand other, meerely blockes and dullardes by Nature, could never so soone comprehend all the particularities of my knowledge, as this honest and apprehensive man hath done. Thou didst not search into it halfe so soone, nor (indeed) did I expresse a quarter of my ingenuity to thee, as (since his comming) hath prodigally flowne from me.
Well do I remember thy words, that Buffalmaco delighted to be among men of Wisedome: and have I not now fitted him unto his owne desire? How thinkest thou Bruno? The best (quoth Bruno) that any man living in the World could do. Ah worthy Buffalmaco, answered the Physitian: What wouldst thou then have sayde, if thou hadst seene me at Bologna, where there was neyther great nor small, Doctor nor Scholler, but thought themselves happy by being in my company? If I ought any debts, I discharged them with my very wittie words: and whensoever I spake, I could set them al on a hearty laughter, so much pleasure they tooke in hearing mee. And when I departed thence, no men in the world could bee more sorrowfull then they, as desiring nothing more then my remayning among them; which they expressed so apparantly, that they made humble suite and intercession to me, to bee cheefe Reader of the Physicke-Lecture, to all the Schollers studying our profession. But I could not be so perswaded, because my minde was wholly addicted hither, to enjoy those Goods, Landes, and Inheritances, belonging lineally to them of our house, and accordingly I did performe it.
How now Buffalmaco (quoth Bruno) what is thine opinion now? Thou wouldst not beleeve me when I told thee, that there is not a Doctor in all these parts, more skilfull in distinguishing the Urine of an Asse, from any other, then this most expert and singular man: and I dare boldly maintaine it, that his fellow is not to bee found, from hence to the very gates of Paris. Go then, and doe the uttermost endeavour that thou canst, to grant the request which he hath made.
Beleeve me Buffalmaco, saide the Doctor, Bruno hath spoken nothing but truth, for I am scarsely knowne heere in this City, where (for the most part) they are all grosse-witted people, rather then any jot judicious: but I would thou hadst seene me among the Doctors, in manner as I was wont to be. In troth Sir, replyed Buffalmaco, you are much more Learned then ever I imagined, in which respect, speak unto you as it becommeth me, to a man so excellent in wit and understanding: I dare assure you, that (without any faile) I wit procure you to be one of our Company.
After this promise thus made, the good cheare, favors and kindnesses done by the Doctor to them, was beyond the compasse of all relation: whereof they made no more then a meere mockery, flouting him to his face, and yet his Wisedome could not discerne it. Moreover, they promised, that they would give him to Wife, the faire Countesse di Civillari, who was the onely goodliest creature to be found in the whole Culattario of humane generation. The Doctor demanded, what Countesse that was? Oh Sir, answered Buffalmaco, she is a great Lady, one worthy to have issue by; and few houses are there in the world, where she hath not some jurisdiction and command: so that not meane people onely, but even the greatest Lords, at the sound of her Trumpets, do very gladlie pay her tribute. And I dare boldly affirme, that whensoever shee walketh to any place, she yeeldeth a hot and sensible savour, albeit she keepeth most of all close. Yet once every night, shee duely observeth it (as a Custome) to passe from her owne house, to bathe her feete in the River of Arno, and take a little of the sweeter Ayre: albeit her continuall residencie, is within the Kingdome of Laterino.
She seldome walketh abroad, but goeth with her attending Officers about her, who (for more demonstration of her greatnesse) do carry the Rod and plummet of Lead. Store of her Lords and Barons are every where to be seene; as the Tamagnino della porta, Don Meta di Sirropa; Manico di Scopa; Signior Squacchera, and others beside, who are (as I suppose) oftentimes your visitants, when of necessity they must be remembred. All our care and courtesie shall extend so farre (if we doe not falle in our enterprize) to leave you in the armes of so Majestick a Ladie, quite forgetting hir of Cacavinciglia.
The Physitian, who was borne and brought up at Bologna, and therefore understoode not these Florentine tearmes: became fully contented to enjoy the Ladie; and, within some few dayes following, the Painters brought him tydings, that they had prepared the way for his entertainment into the Societie of Rovers. The day being come, when the supposed assembly was to be made the night following: the Physitian invited them both to dinner; when he demanding, what provision he shold make for his entrance into their company, Buffalmaco returned him this answer, whereto hee gave very heedfull attention.
Master Doctor, you must be first of all, strongly armed with resolution and confidence: for, if you be not, you may not only receyve hindrance, but also do us great harme beside: and now you shall heare, in what manner, and how you are to be bold and constant. You must procure the meanes, this instant night, when all the people are in their soundest sleepe, to stand upon one of those high exalted Tombs or Monuments, which are in the churchyard of Santa Maria Novella, with the very fairest gowne you have about you, because you may appeare in the more honorable condition, before the assembly seated together, and likewise to make good our speeches already delivered of you, concerning your qualitie and profession: that the Countesse, perceyving you to bee a woorthie Gentleman, may have you first honoured with the Bathe, and afterward Knighted at her owne cost and charge. But you must continue stil upon the Tombe (dreadlesse of nightly apparitions and visions) untill such time as we send for you.
And for your better information in every particulare; a Beaste, blacke and horned, but of no great stature, will come to fetch you: perhaps he will use some gastly noises, straunge leapes, and loftie trickes, onely to terrifie and affright you: but when he perceiveth that he cannot daunt you, hee will gently come neere you, which when he hath done, you may descend from off the Tombe; and, without naming or thinking on God, or any of his Saintes, mount boldly on his backe, for he will stand ready to receive you. Being so seated, crosse your armes over your brest, without presuming to touch or handle the Beast, for he will carry you thence softly, and so bring you along to the company. But if in all this time of your travaile, you call on heaven, any Saint, or bee possessed with the least thought of feare: I must plainely tell you, that either hee will cast you dangerously, or throw you into some noysom place. And therefore, if you know your selfe, not to be of a constant courage, and sprightly bold, to undertake such an adventure as this: never presume any further, because you may doe us a great deale of injurie, without any gaine or benefite to your selfe, but rather such wrong, as we would be very sorry should happen unto so deere a Friend.
Alas honest Buffalmaco, answered the Physitian, thou art not halfe acquainted with me as yet: because I walke with gloves upon my hands, and in a long Gowne, thou perhappes doest imagine mee a faint-hearted fellow. If thou didst know, what I have heeretofore done at Bologna in the night time, when I and my Consorts went to visite pretty wenches, thou wouldst wonder at my couragious attempts. As I am a Gentleman, one night, we met with a young Bona Roba, a paltry greene-sicknesse baggage, scarsely above a Cubite in height, and because she refused to go with us willingly, I gave her a kicke on the bum, and spurnde her more then a Crosse-bowe shoote in distance from me, and made her walke with us whether she would, or no. Another time I remember, when having no other company but my boy, I went thorow the Churchyard of the Fryars Minors, after the sounding of Ave Maria: a woman hadde beene buried there the very same day, and yet I was not a jotte affraid.
Wherefore, never be distrustfull of mee, but resolvedly builde upon my courage. And in regard of my more honourable entertainment, I will then weare my Scarlet Gowne and Hood, wherein I receyved my graduation; and then do both of you observe, what a rejoycing will be among the whole company, at the entertaining of such a man as I am, enough to create me Captaine immediatly. You shall perceive also how the case will go, after I have beene there but a while, in regard that the Countesse (having as yet never seene me) is so deepely enamored of mee: she cannot choose but bestow the Bathe and Knighthood on me, which shee shall have the more honour of, in regard I am well able to maintaine it, therefore referre all the rest to mee, and never misdoubt your injurie or mine.
Spoken like a Gallant, replyed Buffalmaco, and I feare not now, but we shall winne credite by your company. But be carefull I pray you, that you make not a mockery of us, and come not at all, or fayle to be there, when the Beast shall be sent for you; I speake it the rather, because it is cold weather, and you Gentlemen Physitians can hardly endure it. You are carefull of mee (quoth the Doctor) and I thanke you for it, but I applaud my faire Starres, I am none of your nice or easie-frozen fellowes, because cold weather is very familiar to me. I dare assure you, when I arise in the night time for that naturall office whereto all men are subject, I weare no warmer defence, then my thin wastcoat over my shirt, and finde it sufficient for the coldest weather at any time. When Bruno and Buffalmaco had taken their leave, the Physitian, so soone as night drew neere, used many apt excuses to his wife, stealing forth his Scarlet Gowne and Hood unseene of any, wherewith being clothed: at the time appointed, he got upon one of the Marble Tombes, staying there (quaking with cold) awaiting when the Beast should come. Buffalmaco, being a lusty tall man of person, had got an ugly masking suite, such as are made use of in Tragedies and Playes, the out-side being of black shagged haire, wherwith being cloathed, he seemed like a strange deformed Beare, and a Divels vizard over his face, with two gastly horrible hornes, and thus disguised, Bruno following him, they went to behold the issue of the businesse, so farre as the new Market place, closely adjoining to Santa Maria Novella.
Having espyed Master Doctor uppon the Tombe, Buffalmaco in his mishapen habite, began to bound, leape, and carriere, snuffling and blowing in mad and raging manner: which when the Physitian saw, his haire stood on end, he quaked and trembled, as being more fearfull then a Woman, wishing himselfe at home againe in his house, rather then to behold a sight so dreadfull. But because he was come forth, and had such an earnest desire, to see the wonders related to him; he made himselfe so coragious as possibly he could, and bare all out in formall manner. After that Buiffalmaco had (an indifferent while) plaide his horsetrickes, ramping and stamping somewhat strangely: seeming as become of much milder temper, he went neere to the Tomb whereon the Physitian stood, and there appeared to stay contentedly.
Master Doctor, trembling and quaking still extreamely, was so farre dismayed, as he knew not what was best to be done, either to mount on the beasts backe, or not to mount at all. In the end, thinking no harme could happen to him, if he were once mounted, with the second feare, hee expelled the former, and descending downe softly from the Tombe, mounted on the beast, saying out alowde: God, Saint Dominicke, and my good Angell helpe to defend mee. Seating himselfe so well as he could, but trembling still exceedingly; he crossed his armes over his stomacke, according to the Lesson given him.
Then did Buffalmaco shape his course in milde manner, toward Santa Maria della Scala, and groping to finde his way in the darke, went on so farre as the Sisters of Ripole, commonly called the Virgin Sanctuary. Not farre off from thence, were divers trenches and ditches, wherein such men as are imployed in necessary nightservices, used to empty the Countesse di Cimillari, and afterward imployed it for manuring Husbandmens grounds. Buffalmaco, being come neere one of them, he stayed to breath himselfe awhile, and then catching fast hold on one of the Doctours feete, raysed him somewhat higher on his back, for the easier discharging of his burthen, and so pitched him (with his head forwardes) into the Laystall.
Then began he to make a dreadful kinde of noise, stamping and trampling with his feete, passing backe againe to Santa Maria della Scala, and to Prato d'Ognissanti, where hee met with Bruno, who was constrained to forsake him, because he could not refraine from lowde Laughter, then both together went backe once more, to see how the Physitian would behave himselfe, being so sweetely embrued.
Master Doctor, seeing himselfe to bee in such an abhominable stinking place, laboured with all his utmost endevour, to get himself released thence: but the more he contended and strove for getting forth, he plunged himselfe the further in, being most pitifully myred from head to foot, sighing and sorrowing extraordinarily, because much of the foule water entred in at his mouth. In the end, being forced to leave his hood behinde him, scrambling both with his hands and feet, he got landing out of his stinking Labyrinth, and having no other means, home he returned to his own house, where knocking at the door he was at length admitted entrance. The doore being scarse made fast againe after his letting in, Buffalmaco and Bruno were there arrived, listning how M. Doctor should bee welcomd home by his angry wife: who scolding and railing at him with wonderfull impatience, gave him most hard and bitter speeches, terming him the vilest man living.
Where have you bin Sir? quoth she. Are you becom a night-walker after other Women? And could no worse garments serve your turne, but your Doctors gown of Scarlet? Am I to suffer this behaviour? Or am not I sufficient to content you, but you must be longing after change? I would thou hadst bin stifled in that foule filth, where thy fouler life did justly cast thee. Behold goodly Master Doctor of the Leystall, who being maried to an honest woman must yet go abroad in the night time, insatiatly lusting after whores and harlots. With these and the like intemperate speeches, she ceased not to afflict and torment him, till the night was almost spent, and the Doctor brought into a sweeter savour.
The next morning, Bruno and Buffalmaco, colourd their bodyes with a strange kinde of painting, resembling blisters, swellings, and bruises, as if they had bin extreamly beaten; came to the Physitians house, finding him to be newly up, al the house yet smelling of his foule savour (although it had bin very well perfumed) and being admitted to him in the Garden, hee welcommed them with the mornings salutations. But Bruno and Buffalmaco (being otherwise provided for him) delivering stearne and angry lookes, stamping and chafing, Bruno thus replyed.
Never speake so faire and flattering to us, for we are moved beyond all compasse of patience. All misfortunes in the worlde fall upon you, and an evill death may you dye, like the most false and perfidious Traitor living on the earth. We must beate our braines, and move all our most endeared friends, onely for your honor and advancement: while wee were well neere starved to death in the cold like Dogs, and, by your breach of promise, have bin this night so extreamly beaten, as if (like Asses) we should have beene driven to Rome.
But that which is most greevous of all, is danger of excluding out of the Society, where wee tooke good order for your admittance, and for your most honourable entertainment. If you wi not credit us, behold our bodies, and let your owne eyes be witnesses, in what cruell manner we have bin beaten. So taking him aside under the Gallery, where they might not be discovered by overmuch light, they opened their bosomes, shewing him their painted bodies, and sodainly closed them up againe.
The Physitian laboured to excuse himselfe, declaring his misfortunes at large, and into what a filthy place he was throwne. It maketh no matter (answered Buffalmaco) I would you had bin throwen from off the Bridge into Arno, where you might have beene recommended to the Divell and all his Saints. Did not I tell you so much before. In good sadnesse (quoth the Doctor) I neyther commended my selfe to God, nor any of his Saints. How? sayde Buffalmaco, I am sure you will not maintaine an untruth, you used a kind of recommendation: for our messenger told us, that you talked of God, S. Dominicke, and your good Angell, whom you desired to assist you, being so affrighted with feare, that you trembled like a leafe upon a tree, not knowing indeede where you were. Thus have you unfaithfully dealt with us, as never any man shall doe the like againe, in seeking honour, and losing it through your own negligence.
Master Doctor humbly entreated pardon, and that they would not revile him any more, labouring to appease them by the best words he could use, as fearing least they should publish this great disgrace of him. And whereas (before) he gave them gracious welcomes; now he redoubled them with farre greater courtesies, feasting them daily at his own table, and evermore delighting in their company. Thus (as you have heard) two poore Painters of Florence, taught Master Doctor better Wit, then all the Learned at Bologna.[ Hide Ninth Novell ]
Needlesse it were to question, whether the Novell related by the Queene, in divers passages thereof, mooved the Ladies to hearty laughter, and likewise to compassionate sighes and teares; as pittying Madame Helena in her hard misfortune, and yet applauding the Scholler for his just revenge. But the discourse being ended, Dioneus, who knew it was his Office to be the last speaker every day, after silence was commanded, he began in this manner.
Worthy Ladies, it is a matter very manifest, that deceits do appeare so much the more pleasing, when (by the selfesame meanes) the subtle deceyver is artificially deceived. In which respect, though you all have reported very singular deceits: yet I meane to tel you one, that may prove as pleasing to you, as any of your owne. And so much the rather, because the woman deceived, was a great and cunning Mistris in beguiling others; equalling (if not excelling) any of your former beguilers.
It hath bene observed heretofore, and (happily) at this very day it is as frequent, that in all Cities and Townes upon the Seacoasts, having Ports for the benefit and venting Merchandises; Merchants use to bring their wealthy laden Vessels thither. And when they unlade any Ship of great fraught, there are prepared Store-houses, which in many places are called Magazines or Doganaes, at the charge of the Communalty, or Lord of the Towne or City, for the use whereof, they receive yearly gain and benefit. Into those warehouses, they deliver (under writing, and to the owners of them in especiall charge) all their goods and merchandises, of what price or valew soever they are.
Such as be the Owners of these Magazines, when the Wares are thus stored uppe in them, doe safely locke them up there with their keyes, having first registred downe truly all the goods, in the Register belonging to the Custome-house, that the Merchant may have a just account rendred him, and the rights payed to the Customehouse, according to the Register, and as they are either in part, or in all made sale of.
Brokers are continually there attending, being informed in the quality of the Merchandises stored, and likewise to what Merchants they appertaine: by meanes of these men, and according as the goods come to their hands, they devise to have them exchaunged, trucked, vented, and such other kinds of dispatches, answerable to the mens minds, and worth of the Commodities. As in many other Kingdomes and Countries, so was this custome observed at Palermo in Sicily, where likewise then were, and (no doubt) now adayes are, store of Women, faire and comely of person, but yet vowed enemies to honesty.
Neverthelesse, by such as know them not, they are held and reputed to be blamelesse Women, and by yeilding their bodyes unto generall use, are the occasion of infinite misfortunes to men. For so soone as they espy a Merchant-stranger there arrived, they win information from the Booke belonging to the Magazin, what wares are therein stored, of what valew they bee, and who is the Owner of them. Afterwards, by amorous actions, and affable speeches, they allure yong Merchants to take knowledge of them, to bee familiar in their company, till from some they get most part of their wealth, from others all. Nay, divers have gone so farre, as to make Port-sale of Ship, Goods, and Person, so cunningly they have bene shaven by these Barbers, and yet without any Razor.
It came to passe, and no long time since, that a young Florentine of ours, named Niccolo de Cignano, but more usually called Salabetto, imployed as Factor for his Maister, arrived at Palermo; his Ship stored with many Woollen Cloathes, a remainder of such as had bin sold at the Mart of Salerno; amounting in valew to above five hundred Florines of Gold. When he had given in his packet to the Custome-house, and made them up safe in his Warehouse; without making shew of desiring any speedy dispatch, he delighted to view all parts of the City, as mens minds are continuallie addicted to Novelties. He being a very faire and affable yong man, easie to kindle affection in a very modest eie: it fortuned, that a Courtezane, one of our before remembred shavers, who termed hir selfe Madame Biancafiore, having heard somewhat concerning his affairs, beganne to dart amorous glances at him. Which the indiscreete youth perceyving, and thinking her to be some great Lady: began also to grow halfe perswaded, that his comely person was pleasing to her and therefore he would carrie this good fortune of his somewhat cautelously.
Without imparting his mind unto any one, he would daily passe too and fro before her doore; which she observing, and having indifferently wounded him with her wanton piercing lookes: she began to use the first tricke of her Trade, by pretending her enflamed affection towards him, which made her pine and consume away in care, except he might be moved to pitty her. Whereupon, she sent one of her Pandoraes unto him, perfectly instructed in the Art of a Maquerella, who (after many cunning counterfetted sighes, and teares, which she had alwayes ready at command) told him that his comely person and compleate perfections, had so wounded the very soule of her Mistresse, as she could enjoy no rest in any place, either by day or night. In regard whereof, she desired (above all things else) to meete with him privately in a Bathe: with which Wordes, she straightway tooke a Ring forth of her pursse, and in most humble manner, delivered it unto him, as a token from her Mistresse.
Salabetto having heard this Message, was the onely joyfull man that could be: and having receyved the Ring, looking on it advisedly; first kissed it, and then put it upon his finger. Then in answer to the Messenger, he sayd: That if her Mistresse Biancafiore affected him, she sustained no losse thereby, in regard he loved her as fervently, and was ready to be commanded by her, at any time whensoever she pleased.
She having delivered this message to her Mistresse, was presently returned backe againe to him, to let him understand, in which of the Bathes she meant to meet him, on the next morrow in the evening. This being counsell for himselfe onely to keepe, he imparted it not to any friend whatsoever; but when the houre for their meeting was come, he went unto the place where he was appointed, a Bathe (belike) best agreeing with such businesse.
Not long had he taried there, but two Women slaves came laden to him, the one bearing a Mattresse of fine Fustian on hir head, and the other a great Basket filled with many things. Having spred the Mattresse in a faire Chamber on a Couch-bed, they covered it with delicate white Linnen sheets, all about embroidred with faire Fringes of gold, then laid they on costly quilts of rich Silkes, artificially wrought with gold and silver knots, having pearles and precious stones interwoven among them, and two such rich pillowes, as sildome before had the like bin seene. Salabetto putting off his garments, entred the Bath prepared for him, where the two Slaves washed his body very neatly. Soone after came Biancafiore hirselfe, attended on by two other women slaves, and seeing Salabetto in the Bathe; making him a lowly reverence, breathing forth infinite dissembled sighes, and teares trickling downe her cheekes, kissing and embracing him, thus she spake.
I know not what man else in the worlde, beside thy selfe, could have the power to bring me hither: the fire flew from thy faire eies (O thou incompareable lovely Tuscane) that melted my soule, and makes me onely live at thy command. Then hurling off her light wearing garment (because she came prepared for the purpose) shee stept into the bathe to him, and, not permitting the Slaves a-while to come neere, none but her selfe must now lave his body, with Muske compounded Sope and Gilly-floures. Afterward, the slaves washed both him and her, bringing two goodly sheetes, softe and white, yeelding such a delicate smell of Roses, even as if they had bene made of Rose-leaves. In the one, they folded Salabetto, and her in the other, and so conveyed them on their shoulders unto the prepared Bed-Couch, where because they should not sweate any longer, they tooke the sheets from about them, and laid them gently in the bed.
Then they opened the Basket, wherein were divers goodly Silver bottles, some filled with Rosewaters, others with flowers of Orenges, and Waters distilled of Gelsomine, Muske, and Amber-Greece, wherewith (againe) the slaves bathed their bodyes in the bed, and afterward presented them with variety of Comfites, as also very precious Wines, serving them in stead of a little Collation. Salabetto supposed himself to be in Paradise: for this appeared to be no earthly joy, bestowing a thousand gladsome gazes on her, who (questionlesse) was a most beautifull creature, and the tarrying of the Slaves, seemed millions of yeares to him, that hee might more freely embrace his Biancafiore. Leaving a Waxe Taper lighted in the Chamber, the slaves departed, and then shee sweetly embracing Salabetto, bestowed those further favours on him, which hee came for, and she was not squeamish in the affoording; wherof he was exceedingly joyfull, because he imagined, that they proceeded from the integrity of her affection towards him.
When she thought it convenient time to depart thence, the slaves returned; they cloathed themselves, and had a Banquet standing ready prepared for them; wherewith they cheared their wearyed spirits, after they had first washed in odorifferous waters. At parting: Salabetto (quoth she) whensoever thy leysures shal best serve thee, I will repute it as my cheefest happinesse, that thou wilt accept a Supper and Lodging in my house, which let it be this instant night, if thou canst. He being absolutely caught, both by hir beauty and flattering behaviour: beleeved faithfully, that he was as intirely beloved of her, as the heart is of the body: whereuppon hee thus answered. Madame, whatsoever pleaseth you, must needes be much more acceptable unto mee: and therefore, not onely may command my service this night, but likewise the whole employment of my life, to be onely yours in my very best studies and endeavours.
No sooner did she heare this answer, but she returned home to her owne house, which she decked in most sumptuous maner, and also made ready a costly Supper, expecting the arrivall of Salabetto: who when the darke night was indifferently well entred, went thither, and was welcommed with wonderfull kindnesse, wanting no costly Wines and Delicates all the Supper while. Being afterward conducted into a goodly Chamber, he smelt there admirable sweete senting savours, such as might well beseeme a Princes Pallace. He beheld a most costly Bed, and very rich furniture round about the roome: which when he had duly considered to himself, he was constantly perswaded, that she was a Lady of infinit wealth. And although he had heard divers flying reports concerning her life, yet hee would not credite any thing amisse of her, for albeit she might (perhappes) beguile some other; yet shee affected him (he thought) in better manner, and no such misfortune could happen to him.
Having spent all the night with her in wanton dalliances, and being risen in the morning; to enflame his affection more and more towards her, and to prevent any ill opinion he might conceyve of her, she bestowed a rich and costly Girdle on him, as also a pursse most curiously wrought, saying to him. My sweet Salabetto, with these testimonies of my true affection to thee, I give thee faithfully to understand, that as my person is onely subjected thine; so this house and all the riches in it, remaineth absolutely at thy disposition, or whatsoever hereafter shal happen within the compasse of my power.
He being not a little proud of this her bountifull offer (having never bestowed any gift on her, because by no meanes shee would admit it) after many sweet kisses and embraces; departed thence, to the place where the Merchants usually frequented: resorting to her (from time to time) as occasion served, and paying not one single peny for all his wanton pleasure, by which cunning baytes (at length) she caught him.
It came to passe, that having made sale of all his Clothes, whereby hee had great gaines, and the moneyes justly payed him at the times appointed: Biancafiore got intelligence thereof; yet not by him, but from one of the Brokers. Salabetto comming one night to sup with her, she embraced and kissed him as she was wont to doe, and seemed so wonderfully addicted in love to him, even as if shee would have dyed with delight in his armes. Instantly, shee would needs bestow two goodly gilt standing Cuppes on him, which Salabetto by no meanes would receive, because she had formerly bin very bountifull to him, to above the value of an hundred Crowns, and yet she would not take of him so much as a mite. At length, pressing still more tokens of her love and bounty on him, which he as courteously denied, as she kindly offered: one of her Women-slaves (as shee had before cunningly appointed) sodainely calling her, forthwith she departed out of her Chamber. And when she had continued a pretty while absent, she returned againe weeping, and throwing her selfe downe upon her Pallet, breathed forth such sighes and wofull lamentations, as no Woman could possibly doe the like.
Salabetto amazedly wondering thereat, tooke her in his Armes, and weeping also with her, said. Alas my deare Love, what sodain accident hath befalne you, to urge this lamentable alteration? If you love me, hide it not from me. After he had of entreated her in this manner, casting her armes about his necke, and sighing as if her heart would breake, thus she replyed. Ah Salabetto, the onely jewell of my joy on earth, I knowe not what to do, or say, for (even now) I received Letters from Messina, wherein my Brother writes to me, that although it cost the sale of all my goods, or whatsoever else I have beside, I must (within eight dayes space) not faile to send him a thousand Florins of gold, or else he must have his head smitten off, and I know not by what meanes to procure them so soone. For, if the limitation of fifteene dayes might serve the turne, I could borrow them in a place, where I can command a farre greater summe, or else I would sell some part of our Lands. But beeing no way able to furnish him so soone, I would I had died before I heard these dismall tydings. And in the uttering of these words, she graced them with such cunning dissembled sorrow, as if she had meant truly indeed. Salabetto, in whom the fury of his amorous flames, had consumed a great part of his necessary understanding, beleeving these counterfetted tears and complaints of hers, to proceed from an honest meaning soule; rashly and foolishly thus replied. Deare Biancafiore, I cannot furnish you with a thousand golden Florines, but am able to lend you five hundred if I were sure of their repayment at fifteene dayes, wherein you are highly beholding to Fortune, that I have made sale of all my Cloathes; which if they had lyen still on my hand, my power could not stretch to lend you five Florines. Alas deare heart (quoth she) would you be in such want of money, and hide it from her that loves you so loyally? Why did you not make your need knowne to me? Although I am not furnished of a thousand Florines; yet I have alwaies ready three or foure hundred by me, to do any kinde office for my friend. In thus wronging me, you have robd me of all boldnes, to presume upon your offer made me. Salabetto, far faster inveigled by these words then before, said. Let not my folly (bright Biancafiore) cause you to refuse my friendly offer, in such a case of extreme necessity: I have them ready pre. pared for you, and am heartily sory, that my power cannot furnish you with the whole summe.
Then catching him fast in her armes, thus she answered. Now I plainly perceive, my dearest Salabetto, that the love thou bearest me is true and perfect; when, without expectation of being requested, thou art readie to succour me in such an urgent neede, and with so faire a summe of Florines. Sufficiently was I thine owne before, but now am much more ingaged by so high deserving; with this particular acknowledgement for ever, that my Brothers head was redeemed by thy goodnesse onely. Heaven beareth me record, how unwilling I am to be beholding in this kind, considring that you are a Merchant, and Merchants furnish al their affairs with ready monis: but seeing necessity constraineth me, and I make no doubt of repaiment at the time appointed: I . p shall the more boldly accept your kindnes, with this absolute promise beside, that I wil rather sell all the houses I have, then breake my honest word with you.
Counterfeit teares still drayning downe her cheeks, and Salabetto kindly comforting her; he continued there with hir all that night, to expresse him selfe her most liberall servant. And, without expecting any more requesting, the next morning he brought her the five hundred Florines, which she received with a laughing heart, but outward dissembled weeping eies; Salabetto never demanding any other security, but onely her single promise.
Biancafiore, having thus received the five hundred Florines, the indiction of the Almanacke began to alter: and whereas (before) Salabetto could come see her whensoever he pleased, many occasions now happened, whereby he came seven times for once, and yet his entrance was scarsely admitted, neither was his entertainment so affable, or his cheare so bountifull, as in his former accesses thither. Moreover, when the time for repaiment was come, yea a moneth or two over-past, and he demanded to have his money; hee could have nothing but words for paiment. Now he began to consider on the craft and cunning of this wicked Woman, as also his owne shallow understanding, knowing he could make no proofe of his debt, but what her selfe listed to say, having neither witnes, specialty, bill or bond to shew: which made his folly so shamefull to him, that he durst not complaine to any person, because he had received some advertisements before, whereto he wold by no means listen, and now should have no other amends, but publike infamie, scorne and disgrace, which made him almost weary of his life, and much to bemoane his owne unhappinesse. He received also divers Letters from his Master, to make returne of the 500 Florines over by way of banke, according as he had used to do: but nowe could performe no such matter.
Hereupon, because his error should not be discovered, he departed in a small vessell thence, not making for Pisa, as he should have done, but directly for Naples hee shaped his course. At that instant lodged there, Don Pietro della Canigiano, Treasurer of the Empresse of Constantinople, a man of great wisedome and understanding, as also very ingenious and politike, he being an especiall Favourer of Salabetto and all his friendes, which made him presume the more boldly (being urged thereto by meere necessity, the best corrector of wandering wits) to acquaint him with his lamentable misfortune, in every particular as it had hapned, requesting his aid and advice, how he might best weare out the rest of his dayes, because hee never meant to visit Florence any more.
Canigiano being much displeased at the repetition of his Follie, sharply reproved him, saying. Thou hast done leudly, in carying thy selfe so loosely, and spending thy Masters goods so carelesly, which though I cannot truly tearme spent, but rather art meerely cousened and cheated of them, yet thou seest at what a deere rate thou hast purchased pleasure, which yet is not utterly helplesse, but may by one meanes or other be recovered. And being a man of woonderfull apprehension, advised him instantly what was to bee done, furnishing him also with a summe of money, wherewith to adventure a second losse, in hope of recovering the first againe: he caused divers Packes to be well bound up, with the Merchants markes orderly made on them, and bought about twenty Buttes or Barrelles, all filled (as it were) with Oyle, and these pretended commodities being shipt, Salabetto returned with them to Palermo. Where having given in his packets to the Customehouse, and entred them all under his owne name, as being both owner and factor: all his Wares were lockt up in his Magizine, with open publication, that he would not vent any of them, before other merchandises (which he daily expected) were there also arrived.
Biancafiore having heard thereof, and understanding withall, that he had brought Merchandises now with him, amounting to above two thousand Florins, staying also in expectation of other commodities, valewing better then three thousand more, she beganne to consider with her selfe, that she had not yet gotten money enough from him, and therefore would cast a figure for a farre bigger booty. Which that she might the more fairely effect, without so much as an imagination of the least mistrust: she would repay him backe his five hundred Florines, to winne from him a larger portion of two or three thousand at the least, and having thus setled her determination, she sent to have him come speake with her. Salabetto, having bene soundly bitten before, and therefore the better warranted from the like ranckling teeth, willingly went to her, not shewing any signe of former discontent: and she, seeming as if she knew nothing of the wealth he brought with him, gracing him in as loving manner as ever she had done, thus she spake.
I am sure Salabetto, you are angry with mee, because I restored not your Florines at my promised day. Salabetto smiling, presently answered. Beleeve me Lady (quoth he) it did a little distast me, even as I could have bin offended with him, that should plucke out my heart to bestow it on you, if it would yeelde you any contentment. But to let you know unfainedly, how much I am incensed with anger against you: such and so great is the affection I beare you, that I have solde the better part of my whole estate, converting the same into Wealthy Merchandises, which I have alreadie brought hither with mee, and valewing above two thousand Florines, all which are stored up in my Magazine. There must they remaine, till another Ship come forth of the Westerne parts, wherein I have a much greater adventure, amounting unto more then three thousand Florines. And my purpose is, to make my aboade heere in this City, which hath won the sole possession of my heart, onely in regard of my Biancafiore, to whom I am so intirely devoted, as both my selfe, and whatsoever else is mine (now or hereafter) is dedicated onely to her service; whereto thus she replyed.
Now trust me Salabetto, whatsoever redoundeth to thy good and benefite, is the cheefest comfort of my soule, in regard I prize thy love dearer then mine owne life, and am most joyfull of thy returne hither againe; but much more of thy still abiding heere, because I intend to live onely with thee, so soone as I have taken order for some businesse of import. In the meane while, let me entreate thee to hold me excused, because before thy departure hence, thou camest sometimes to see me, without thy entrance admitted; and other-whiles againe, found not such entertainement, as formerly had bene affoorded. But indeede, and above all the rest, in not re-paying thy money according to my promise. But consider good Salabetto, in what great trouble and affliction of minde I then was, both in regard of my Brothers danger, and other important occurrences beside, which mollestations do much distract the senses, and hinder kinde courtesies, which otherwise would bee extended liberally.
Last of all consider also, how difficult a thing it is for a woman, so sodainly to raise the summe of a thousand golden Florines, when one friend promiseth, and performeth not; another protesteth, yet hath no such meaning; a third sweareth, and yet proveth a false Lyar: so that by being thus ungently used, a breach is made betweene the best frends living. From hence it proceeded, and no other defect else, that I made not due returne of your five hundred Florins. No sooner were you departed her but I had them readie, and as many more, and could I have knowne whither to send them, they had bene with you long time since, which because I could not (by any meanes) compasse, I kept them still for you in continuall readinesse, as hoping of your comming hither againe. So causing a purse to be brought, wherein the same Florines were, which hee had delivered her; she gave it into his hand, and prayed him to count them over, whether there were so many, or no.
Never was Salabettoes heart halfe so joyfull before; and having counted them, found them to be his owne five hundred Florines: then, putting them up into his pocket, he saide. Comfort of my life, Full well I know that whatsoever you have saide, is most certaine; but let us talke no more of falshood in friendship, or casuall accidents happening unexpected: you have dealt with mee like a most loyall Mistresse, and heere I protest unfainedly to you, that as well in respect of this kinde courtesie, as also the constancy of mine affection to you, you cannot request hereafter a far greater summe of me, to supply any necessarie occasion of yours; but (if my power can performe it) you shall assuredly finde it certaine: make proofe thereof whensoever you please, after my other goods are Landed, and I have established my estate here in your City.
Having in this manner renewed his wonted amity with her, and with words farre enough off from all further meaning: Salabetto began againe to frequent her company, she expressing all former familiarity, shewing her selfe as lavishly bountifull to him, in all respects as before she had done, nay, many times in more magnificent manner.
But he intending to punish her notorious trechery towards him, when she left him as an open scorne to the World, wounded with disgrace, and quite out of credit with all his friends: she having (on a day) solemnly invited him, to suppe and lodge in her house all night; he went, both with sad and melancholly lookes, seeming as overcome with extreamity of sorrow. Biancafiore mervayling at this strange alteration in him, sweetly kissing and embracing him: would needs know the reason of his passionate affliction, and he permitting her to urge the question oftentimes together, without returning any direct answere; to quit her in her kind, and with coine of her owne stampe, after a few dissembled sighes, he began in this manner.
Ah my dearest Love, I am utterly undone, because the Shippe containing the rest of mine expected Merchandises, is taken by the Pyrates of Monago, and put to the ransome of tenne thousand Florines of Gold, and my part particularly, is to pay one thousand. At this instant I am utterly destitute of money, because the five hundred Florines which I received of you, I sent hence the next daie following to Naples, to buy more cloathes, which likewise are to be sent hither. And if I should now make sale of the Merchandizes in my Magazine (the time of generall utterance being not yet come) I shall not make a pennyworth for a penny. And my misfortune is the greater, because I am not so well knowne heere in your City, as to find some succour in such an important distresse; wherfore I know not what to do or say. Moreover, if the money be not speedily sent, our goods will be carried into Monago, and then they are past all redemption utterly.
Biancafiore appearing greatly discontented, as one verily perswaded, that this pretended losse was rather hers, then his, because she aymed at the mainest part of all his wealth: began to consider with her selfe, which was the likeliest course to bee taken, for saving the goods from carriage to Monago: wherupon thus she replied. Heaven knoweth (my dearest Salabetto) how thy love maketh me sorrowfull for this misfortune, and it greeveth me to see thee any way distressed: for if I had mony lying by mee (as many times I have) thou shouldst finde succour from my selfe onely, but indeede I am not able to helpe thee. True it is, there is a friend of mine, who did lend me five hundred Florines in my need, to make uppe the other summe which I borrowed of thee: but he demandeth extreme interest, because he will not abate any thing of thirty in the hundred, and if you should bee forced to use him, you must give him some good security. Now for my part, the most of my goods here I will pawne for thee: but what pledge can you deliver in to make up the rest? Wel did Salabetto conceive the occasion why she urged this motion, and was so diligent in doing him such a pleasure: for it appeared evidently to him, that her selfe was to lend the mony, wherof he was not a litle joyful, seeming very thankful to hir. Then he told her, that being driven to such extremity, how unreasonable soever the usury was, yet he would gladly pay for it. And for her Friends further security, hee would pawne him all the goods in his Magazine, entering them downe in the name of the party, who lent the money. Onely he desired to keepe the Keyes of the Ware-house, as well to shew his Merchandises, when any Merchant shot bee so desirous: as also to preserve them from ill using, transporting or changing, before his redemption of them.
She found no fault with his honest offer, but sayde, hee shewed himselfe a well-meaning man, and the next morning shee sent for a Broker, in whom she reposed especiall trust; and after they had privately consulted together, shee delivered him a thousand Golden Florines, which were caried by him presently to Salabetto, and the Bond made in the Brokers name, of all the goods remaining in Salabettoes ware-house, with composition and absolute agreement, for the prefixed time of the monies repaiment. No sooner was this tricke fully accomplished, but Salabetto seeming as if he went to redeeme his taken goods: set saile for Naples towards Pietro della Canigiano, with fifteene hundred Florines of Gold: from whence also he sent contentment to his Master at Florence (who imployd him as his Factor at Palermo) beside his owne packes of Cloathes. He made repayment likewise to Canigiano, for the monies which furnished him in this last voyage, and any other to whom hee was indebted. So there he stayed awhile with Canigiano, whose counsel thus holpe him to out-reach the Sicillian Courtezane: and meaning to deale in Merchandise no more, afterward he returned to Florence and there lived in good reputation.
Now as concerning Biancafiore, when she saw that Salabetto returned not againe to Palermo, she beganne to grow somewhat abashed, as halfe suspecting that which followed. After she had tarried for him above two moneths space, and perceived hee came not, nor any tydings heard of him: shee caused the Broker to breake open the Magazine, casting forth the Buttes or Barrels, which shee beleeved to bee full of good Oyles. But they were all filled with Seawater, each of them having a small quantity of Oyle floating on the toppe, onely to serve when a tryall should bee made. And then unbinding the Packes, made up in formall and Merchantable manner: there was nothing else in them, but Logges and stumpes of Trees, wrapt handsomely in hurdles of Hempe and Tow; onely two had Cloathes in them. So that (to bee briefe) the whole did not value two hundred Crownes: which when she saw, and observed how cunningly she was deceived: a long while after shee sorrowed, for repaying backe the five hundred Florines, and folly in lending a thousand more, using it as a Proverbe alwaies after to hit selfe: That whosoever dealt with a Tuscane, had neede to have sound sight and judgement. So remaining contented (whither she would or no) with her losse: she plainly perceyved, that although she lived by cheating others, yet now at the length she had mette with her match.
So soone as Dioneus had ended his Novell, Madame Lauretta also knew, that the conclusion of her Regiment was come; whereupon, when the counsell of Canigiano had past with generall commendation, and the wit of Salabetto no lesse applauded, for fitting it with such an effectuall prosecution; shee tooke the Crowne of Laurell from her owne head, and set it upon Madame Aimilliaes, speaking graciously in this manner. Madam, I am not able to say, how pleasant a Queene we shall have of you, but sure I am, that we shall enjoy a faire one: let matters therefore be so honourably ca.rried; that your government may be answerable to your beautifull perfections; which words were no sooner delivered, but she sate downe in her mounted seate.
Madame Aemillia being somewhat bashfull, not so much of hir being created Queene, as to heare her selfe thus publikely praysed, with that which Women do most of all desire: her face then appearing, like the opening of the Damaske Rose, in the goodlyest morning. But after she had a while dejected her lookes, and the Vermillion blush was vanished away: having taken order with the Master of the houshold, for all needefull occasions befitting the assembly, thus she began.
Gracious Ladies, wee behold it daily, that those Oxen which have laboured in the yoake most part of the day, for their more convenient feeding, are let forth at liberty, and permitted to wander abroad in the Woods. We see moreover, that Gardens and Orchards, being planted with variety of the fairest fruit Trees, are equalled in beauty by Woods and Forrests, in the plentifull enjoying of as goodly spreading branches. In consideration whereof, remembring how many dayes wee have already spent (under the severitie of Lawes imposed) shaping all our discourses to a forme of observation: I am of opinion, that it will not onely well become us, but also prove beneficiall for us, to live no longer under such restraint, and like enthralled people, desirous of liberty, wee should no more be subjected to the yoke, but recover our former strength in walking freely.
Wherefore, concerning our pastime purposed for to morrow, I am not minded to use any restriction, or tye you unto any particular ordination: but rather do liberally graunt, that every one shall devise and speake of arguments agreeing with your owne dispositions.
Besides, I am verily perswaded, that variety of matter uttered so freely, will be much more delightfull, then restraint to one kinde of purpose onely. Which being thus granted by me, whosoever shal succeede me in the government, may (as being of more power and preheminence) restraine all backe againe to the accustomed lawes. And having thus spoken, she dispensed with their any longer attendance, untill it should be Supper time.
Every one commended the Queenes appointment, allowing it to rellish of good wit and judgement: and being all risen, fell to such exercises as they pleased. The Ladies made Nosegaies and Chaplets of Flowers, the men played on their Instruments, singing divers sweete Ditties to them, and thus were busied untill Supper time. Which beeing come, and they supping about the beautifull Fountaine: after Supper, they fell to singing and dauncing. In the end, the Queene, to imitate the order of her predecessors, commanded Pamphilus, that notwithstanding all the excellent songs formerly sung: he should now sing one, whereunto dutifully obeying, thus he began.
Love, I found such felicitie,
And joy, in thy captivitie:
As I before did never prove,
And thought me happy, being in Love.
Comfort abounding in my hart,
Joy and Delight
In soule and spright
I did possesse in every part;
O Soveraigne Love by thee.
Thy Sacred fires,
Fed my desires,
And still aspires,
Thy happy thrall to bee.
Love, I found such felicity, etc.
My Song wants power to relate,
The sweets of minde
Which I did finde
In that most blissefull state,
O Soveraigne Love by thee.
No sad despaire,
Or killing care
Could me prepare;
Still thou didst comfort me.
Love, I found such felicity, etc.
I hate all such as do complaine,
And sleights of coy disdaine.
O Soveraigne Love, to mee
Thou has bene kinde:
If others finde
Thee worse inclinde,
Yet I will honour thee.
Love, I found such felicitie,
And joy in thy Captivitie:
As I before did never prove,
But thought me happie, being in Love.
Thus the Song of Pamphilus ended, whereto all the rest (as a Chorus) answered with their Voyces, yet every one particularly (according as they felt their Love-sicke passions) made a curious construction thereof, perhaps more then they needed, yet not Divining what Pamphilus intended. And although they were transported with variety of imaginations; yet none of them could arive at his true meaning indeed. Wherefore the Queene, perceiving the Song to be fully ended, and the Ladies, as also the young Gentlemen, willing to go take their rest: she commaunded them severally to their Chambers.[ Hide Tenth Novell ]