Second Day - Conclusion

[Voice: author ]

[ 001 ] This story provoked so much laughter that the jaws of every one in the company ached; and all the ladies by common consent acknowledged that Dioneo was right, and pronounced Bernabò a blockhead. [ 002 ] But when the story was ended and the laughter had subsided, the queen, observing that the hour was now late, and that with the completion of the day's story-telling the end of her sovereignty was come, followed the example of her predecessor, and took off her wreath and set it on Neifile's brow, saying with gladsome mien, “ Now, dear gossip, thine be the sovereignty of this little people; ” and so she resumed her seat. [ 003 ] Neifile coloured somewhat to receive such honour, shewing of aspect even as the fresh-blown rose of April or May in the radiance of the dawn, her eyes rather downcast, and glowing with love's fire like the morning-star. But when the respectful murmur, by which the rest of the company gave blithe token of the favour in which they held their queen, was hushed, and her courage revived, she raised herself somewhat more in her seat than she was wont, and thus spoke: [ 004 ] “ As so it is that I am your queen, I purpose not to depart from the usage observed by my predecessors, whose rule has commanded not only your obedience but your approbation. I will therefore in few words explain to you the course which, if it commend itself to your wisdom, we will follow. [ 005 ] To-morrow, you know, is Friday, and the next day Saturday, days which most folk find somewhat wearisome by reason of the viands which are then customary, to say nothing of the reverence in which Friday is meet to be held, seeing that 'twas on that day that He who died for us bore His passion; wherefore 'twould be in my judgment both right and very seemly, if, in honour of God, we then bade story-telling give place to prayer. [ 006 ] On Saturday ladies are wont to wash the head, and rid their persons of whatever of dust or other soilure they may have gathered by the labours of the past week; not a few, likewise, are wont to practise abstinence for devotion to the Virgin Mother of the Son of God, and to honour the approaching Sunday by an entire surcease from work. Wherefore, as we cannot then completely carry out our plan of life, we shall, I think, do well to intermit our story-telling on that day also. [ 007 ] We shall then have been here four days; and lest we should be surprised by new-comers, I deem it expedient that we shift our quarters, and I have already taken thought for our next place of sojourn. [ 008 ] Where, being arrived on Sunday, we will assemble after our sleep; and, whereas to-day our discourse has had an ample field to range in, I propose, both because you will thereby have more time for thought, and it will be best to set some limits to the license of our story-telling, that of the many diversities of Fortune's handiwork we make one our theme, whereof I have also made choice, [ 009 ] to wit, the luck of such as have painfully acquired some much-coveted thing, or having lost, have recovered it. Whereon let each meditate some matter, which to tell may be profitable or at least delectable to the company, saving always Dioneo's privilege. ”

[Voice: author ]

[ 010 ] All applauded the queen's speech and plan, to which, therefore, it was decided to give effect. Thereupon the queen called her seneschal, told him where to place the tables that evening, and then explained to him all that he had to do during the time of her sovereignty. This done, she rose with her train, and gave leave to all to take their pleasure as to each might seem best. [ 011 ] So the ladies and the men hied them away to a little garden, where they diverted themselves a while; then supper-time being come, they supped with all gay and festal cheer. When they were risen from the table, Emilia, at the queen's command, led the dance, while Pampinea, the other ladies responding, sang the ensuing song.

[Voice: pampinea ]

[ 012 ] Shall any lady sing, if I not sing,I to whom Love did full contentment bring?

[ 013 ] Come hither, Love, thou cause of all my joy,Of all my hope, and all its sequel blest,And with me tune the lay,No more to sighs and bitter past annoy,That now but serve to lend thy bliss more zest;But to that fire's clear ray,Wherewith enwrapt I blithely live and gay,Thee as my God for ever worshipping.

[ 014 ] 'Twas thou, O Love, didst set before mine eyes,When first thy fire my sould did penetrate,A youth to be my fere,So fair, so fit for deeds of high emprise,That ne'er another shall be found more great,Nay, nor, I ween, his peer:Such flame he kindled that my heart's full cheerI now pour out in chant with thee, my King.

[ 015 ] And that wherein I most delight is this,That as I love him, so he loveth me:So thank thee, Love, I must.For whatsoe'er this world can yield of blissIs mine, and in the next at peace to beI hope through that full trustI place in him. And thou, O God, that dostIt see, wilt grant of joy thy plenishing.

[Voice: author ]

[ 016 ] Some other songs and dances followed, to the accompaniment of divers sorts of music; after which, the queen deeming it time to go to rest, all, following in the wake of the torches, sought their several chambers. The next two days they devoted to the duties to which the queen had adverted, looking forward to the Sunday with eager expectancy.

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