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the Mugnone in search of the heliotrope and Calandrino thinketh to

have found it. Accordingly he returneth home, laden with stones, and

his wife chideth him; whereupon, flying out into a rage, he beateth

her and recounteth to his companions that which they know better than

he_ 371

THE FOURTH STORY. _The rector of Fiesole loveth a widow lady, but is

not loved by her and thinking to lie with her, lieth with a

serving-wench of hers, whilst the lady's brothers cause the bishop

find him in this case_ 377
THE FIFTH STORY. _Three young men pull the breeches off a Marchegan

judge in Florence, what while he is on the bench, administering

justice_ 380
THE SIXTH STORY. _Bruno and Buffalmacco, having stolen a pig from

Calandrino, make him try the ordeal with ginger boluses and sack and

give him (instead of the ginger) two dogballs compounded with aloes,

whereby it appeareth that he himself hath had the pig and they make

him pay blackmail, and he would not have them tell his wife_ 383
THE SEVENTH STORY. _A scholar loveth a widow lady, who, being

enamoured of another, causeth him spend one winter's night in the snow

awaiting her, and he after contriveth, by his sleight, to have her

abide naked, all one mid-July day, on the summit of a tower, exposed

to flies and gads and sun_ 387
THE EIGHTH STORY. _Two men consorting together, one lieth with the

wife of his comrade, who, becoming aware thereof, doth with her on

such wise that the other is shut up in a chest, upon which he lieth

with his wife, he being inside the while_ 403

THE NINTH STORY. _Master Simone the physician, having been induced by

Bruno and Buffalmacco to repair to a certain place by night, there to

be made a member of a company, that goeth a-roving, is cast by

Buffalmacco into a trench full of ordure and there left_ 406

THE TENTH STORY. _A certain woman of Sicily artfully despoileth a

merchant of that which he had brought to Palermo; but he, making

believe to have returned thither with much greater plenty of

merchandise than before, borroweth money of her and leaveth her water

and tow in payment_ 418


THE FIRST STORY. _Madam Francesca, being courted of one Rinuccio

Palermini and one Alessandro Chiarmontesi and loving neither the one

nor the other, adroitly riddeth herself of both by causing one enter

for dead into a sepulchre and the other bring him forth thereof for

dead, on such wise that they cannot avail to accomplish the condition

imposed_ 428

THE SECOND STORY. _An abbess, arising in haste and in the dark to find

one of her nuns, who had been denounced to her, in bed with her lover

and, thinking to cover her head with her coif, donneth instead thereof

the breeches of a priest who is abed with her; the which the accused

nun observing and making her aware thereof, she is acquitted and hath

leisure to be with her lover_ 432

THE THIRD STORY. _Master Simone, at the instance of Bruno and

Buffalmacco and Nello, maketh Calandrino believe that he is with

child; wherefore he giveth them capons and money for medicines and

recovereth without bringing forth_ 435

THE FOURTH STORY. _Cecco Fortarrigo gameth away at Buonconvento all

his good and the monies of Cecco Angiolieri [his master;] moreover,

running after the latter, in his shirt, and avouching that he hath

robbed him, he causeth him be taken of the countryfolk; then, donning

Angiolieri's clothes and mounting his palfrey, he maketh off and

leaveth the other in his shirt_ 438

THE FIFTH STORY. _Calandrino falleth in love with a wench and Bruno

writeth him a talisman, wherewith when he toucheth her, she goeth with

him; and his wife finding them together, there betideth him grievous

trouble and annoy_ 441

THE SIXTH STORY. _Two young gentlemen lodge the night with an

innkeeper, whereof one goeth to lie with the host's daughter, whilst

his wife unwittingly coucheth with the other; after which he who lay

with the girl getteth him to bed with her father and telleth him all,

thinking to bespeak his comrade. Therewithal they come to words, but

the wife, perceiving her mistake, entereth her daughter's bed and

thence with certain words appeaseth everything_ 446
THE SEVENTH STORY. _Talano di Molese dreameth that a wolf mangleth all

his wife's neck and face and biddeth her beware thereof; but she

payeth no heed to his warning and it befalleth her even as he had

dreamed_ 450

THE EIGHTH STORY. _Biondello cheateth Ciacco of a dinner, whereof the

other craftily avengeth himself, procuring him to be shamefully

beaten_ 451
THE NINTH STORY. _Two young men seek counsel of Solomon, one how he

may be loved and the other how he may amend his froward wife, and in

answer he biddeth the one love and the other get him to Goosebridge_

THE TENTH STORY. _Dom Gianni, at the instance of his gossip Pietro,

performeth a conjuration for the purpose of causing the latter's wife

to become a mare; but, whenas he cometh to put on the tail, Pietro

marreth the whole conjuration, saying that he will not have a tail_



THE FIRST STORY. _A knight in the king's service of Spain thinking

himself ill guerdoned, the king by very certain proof showeth him that

this is not his fault, but that of his own perverse fortune, and after

largesseth him magnificently_ 462

THE SECOND STORY. _Ghino di Tacco taketh the Abbot of Cluny and having

cured him of the stomach-complaint, letteth him go; whereupon the

Abbot, returning to the court of Rome, reconcileth him with Pope

Boniface and maketh him a Prior of the Hospitallers_ 464

THE THIRD STORY. _Mithridanes, envying Nathan his hospitality and

generosity and going to kill him, falleth in with himself, without

knowing him, and is by him instructed of the course he shall take to

accomplish his purpose; by means whereof he findeth him, as he himself

had ordered it, in a coppice and recognizing him, is ashamed and

becometh his friend_ 468

THE FOURTH STORY. _Messer Gentile de' Carisendi, coming from Modona,

taketh forth of the sepulchre a lady whom he loveth and who hath been

buried for dead. The lady, restored to life, beareth a male child and

Messer Gentile restoreth her and her son to Niccoluccio Caccianimico,

her husband_ 472
THE FIFTH STORY. _Madam Dianora requireth of Messer Ansaldo a garden

as fair in January as in May, and he by binding himself [to pay a

great sum of money] to a nigromancer, giveth it to her. Her husband

granteth her leave to do Messer Ansaldo's pleasure, but he, hearing of

the former's generosity, absolveth her of her promise, whereupon the

nigromancer, in his turn, acquitteth Messer Ansaldo of his bond,

without willing aught of his_ 478
THE SIXTH STORY. _King Charles the Old, the Victorious, falleth

enamoured of a young girl, but after, ashamed of his fond thought,

honourably marrieth both her and her sister_ 481

THE SEVENTH STORY. _King Pedro of Arragon, coming to know the fervent

love borne him by Lisa, comforteth the lovesick maid and presently

marrieth her to a noble young gentleman; then, kissing her on the

brow, he ever after avoucheth himself her knight_ 485

THE EIGHTH STORY. _Sophronia, thinking to marry Gisippus, becometh the

wife of Titus Quintius Fulvus and with him betaketh herself to Rome,

whither Gisippus cometh in poor case and conceiving himself slighted

of Titus, declareth, so he may die, to have slain a man. Titus,

recognizing him, to save him, avoucheth himself to have done the deed,

and the true murderer, seeing this, discovereth himself; whereupon

they are all three liberated by Octavianus and Titus, giving Gisippus

his sister to wife, hath all his good in common with him_ 491

THE NINTH STORY. _Saladin, in the disguise of a merchant, is

honourably entertained by Messer Torello d'Istria, who, presently

undertaking the [third] crusade, appointeth his wife a term for her

marrying again. He is taken [by the Saracens] and cometh, by his skill

in training hawks, under the notice of the Soldan, who knoweth him

again and discovering himself to him, entreateth him with the utmost

honour. Then, Torello falling sick for languishment, he is by magical

art transported in one night [from Alexandria] to Pavia, where, being

recognized by his wife at the bride-feast held for her marrying again,

he returneth with her to his own house_ 503

THE TENTH STORY. _The Marquess of Saluzzo, constrained by the prayers

of his vassals to marry, but determined to do it after his own

fashion, taketh to wife the daughter of a peasant and hath of her two

children, whom he maketh believe to her to put to death; after which,

feigning to be grown weary of her and to have taken another wife, he

letteth bring his own daughter home to his house, as she were his new

bride, and turneth his wife away in her shift; but, finding her

patient under everything, he fetcheth her home again, dearer than

ever, and showing her her children grown great, honoureth and letteth

honour her as marchioness_ 510






A kindly thing it is to have compassion of the afflicted and albeit it

well beseemeth every one, yet of those is it more particularly

required who have erst had need of comfort and have found it in any,

amongst whom, if ever any had need thereof or held it dear or took

pleasure therein aforetimes, certes, I am one of these. For that,

having from my first youth unto this present been beyond measure

inflamed with a very high and noble passion (higher and nobler,

perchance, than might appear, were I to relate it, to sort with my low

estate) albeit by persons of discretion who had intelligence thereof I

was commended therefor and accounted so much the more worth, natheless

a passing sore travail it was to me to bear it, not, certes, by reason

of the cruelty of the beloved lady, but because of the exceeding

ardour begotten in my breast of an ill-ordered appetite, for which,

for that it suffered me not to stand content at any reasonable bounds,

caused me ofttimes feel more chagrin than I had occasion for. In this

my affliction the pleasant discourse of a certain friend of mine and

his admirable consolations afforded me such refreshment that I firmly

believe of these it came that I died not. But, as it pleased Him who,

being Himself infinite, hath for immutable law appointed unto all

things mundane that they shall have an end, my love,--beyond every

other fervent and which nor stress of reasoning nor counsel, no, nor

yet manifest shame nor peril that might ensue thereof, had availed

either to break or to bend,--of its own motion, in process of time, on

such wise abated that of itself at this present it hath left me only

that pleasance which it is used to afford unto whoso adventureth

himself not too far in the navigation of its profounder oceans; by

reason whereof, all chagrin being done away, I feel it grown

delightsome, whereas it used to be grievous. Yet, albeit the pain hath

ceased, not, therefore, is the memory fled of the benefits whilom

received and the kindnesses bestowed on me by those to whom, of the

goodwill they bore me, my troubles were grievous; nor, as I deem, will

it ever pass away, save for death. And for that gratitude, to my

thinking, is, among the other virtues, especially commendable and its

contrary blameworthy, I have, that I may not appear ungrateful,

bethought myself, now that I can call myself free, to endeavour, in

that little which is possible to me, to afford some relief, in

requital of that which I received aforetime,--if not to those who

succoured me and who, belike, by reason of their good sense or of

their fortune, have no occasion therefor,--to those, at least, who

stand in need thereof. And albeit my support, or rather I should say

my comfort, may be and indeed is of little enough avail to the

afflicted, natheless meseemeth it should rather be proffered whereas

the need appeareth greater, as well because it will there do more

service as for that it will still be there the liefer had. And who

will deny that this [comfort], whatsoever [worth] it be, it behoveth

much more to give unto lovesick ladies than unto men? For that these

within their tender bosoms, fearful and shamefast, hold hid the fires

of love (which those who have proved know how much more puissance they

have than those which are manifest), and constrained by the wishes,

the pleasures, the commandments of fathers, mothers, brothers and

husbands, abide most time enmewed in the narrow compass of their

chambers and sitting in a manner idle, willing and willing not in one

breath, revolve in themselves various thoughts which it is not

possible should still be merry. By reason whereof if there arise in

their minds any melancholy, bred of ardent desire, needs must it with

grievous annoy abide therein, except it be done away by new discourse;

more by token that they are far less strong than men to endure. With

men in love it happeneth not on this wise, as we may manifestly see.

They, if any melancholy or heaviness of thought oppress them, have

many means of easing it or doing it away, for that to them, an they

have a mind thereto, there lacketh not commodity of going about

hearing and seeing many things, fowling, hunting, fishing, riding,

gaming and trafficking; each of which means hath, altogether or in

part, power to draw the mind unto itself and to divert it from

troublous thought, at least for some space of time, whereafter, one

way or another, either solacement superveneth or else the annoy

groweth less. Wherefore, to the end that the unright of Fortune may by

me in part be amended, which, where there is the less strength to

endure, as we see it in delicate ladies, hath there been the more

niggard of support, I purpose, for the succour and solace of ladies in

love (unto others[1] the needle and the spindle and the reel suffice)

to recount an hundred stories or fables or parables or histories or

whatever you like to style them, in ten days' time related by an

honourable company of seven ladies and three young men made in the

days of the late deadly pestilence, together with sundry canzonets

sung by the aforesaid ladies for their diversion. In these stories

will be found love-chances,[2] both gladsome and grievous, and other

accidents of fortune befallen as well in times present as in days of

old, whereof the ladies aforesaid, who shall read them, may at once

take solace from the delectable things therein shown forth and useful

counsel, inasmuch as they may learn thereby what is to be eschewed and

what is on like wise to be ensued,--the which methinketh cannot betide

without cease of chagrin. If it happen thus (as God grant it may) let

them render thanks therefor to Love, who, by loosing me from his

bonds, hath vouchsafed me the power of applying myself to the service

of their pleasures.
[Footnote 1: _i.e._ those not in love.]
[Footnote 2: Syn. adventures (_casi_).]

_Day the First_







As often, most gracious ladies, as, taking thought in myself, I mind

me how very pitiful you are all by nature, so often do I recognize

that this present work will, to your thinking, have a grievous and a

weariful beginning, inasmuch as the dolorous remembrance of the late

pestiferous mortality, which it beareth on its forefront, is

universally irksome to all who saw or otherwise knew it. But I would

not therefore have this affright you from reading further, as if in

the reading you were still to fare among sighs and tears. Let this

grisly beginning be none other to you than is to wayfarers a rugged

and steep mountain, beyond which is situate a most fair and delightful

plain, which latter cometh so much the pleasanter to them as the

greater was the hardship of the ascent and the descent; for, like as

dolour occupieth the extreme of gladness, even so are miseries

determined by imminent joyance. This brief annoy (I say brief,

inasmuch as it is contained in few pages) is straightway succeeded by

the pleasance and delight which I have already promised you and which,

belike, were it not aforesaid, might not be looked for from such a

beginning. And in truth, could I fairly have availed to bring you to

my desire otherwise than by so rugged a path as this will be I had

gladly done it; but being in a manner constrained thereto, for that,

without this reminiscence of our past miseries, it might not be shown

what was the occasion of the coming about of the things that will

hereafter be read, I have brought myself to write them.[3]
[Footnote 3: _i.e._ the few pages of which he speaks above.]
I say, then, that the years [of the era] of the fruitful Incarnation

of the Son of God had attained to the number of one thousand three

hundred and forty-eight, when into the notable city of Florence, fair

over every other of Italy, there came the death-dealing pestilence,

which, through the operation of the heavenly bodies or of our own

iniquitous dealings, being sent down upon mankind for our correction

by the just wrath of God, had some years before appeared in the parts

of the East and after having bereft these latter of an innumerable

number of inhabitants, extending without cease from one place to

another, had now unhappily spread towards the West. And thereagainst

no wisdom availing nor human foresight (whereby the city was purged of

many impurities by officers deputed to that end and it was forbidden

unto any sick person to enter therein and many were the counsels

given[4] for the preservation of health) nor yet humble

supplications, not once but many times both in ordered processions and

on other wise made unto God by devout persons,--about the coming in of

the Spring of the aforesaid year, it began on horrible and miraculous

wise to show forth its dolorous effects. Yet not as it had done in the

East, where, if any bled at the nose, it was a manifest sign of

inevitable death; nay, but in men and women alike there appeared, at

the beginning of the malady, certain swellings, either on the groin or

under the armpits, whereof some waxed of the bigness of a common

apple, others like unto an egg, some more and some less, and these the

vulgar named plague-boils. From these two parts the aforesaid

death-bearing plague-boils proceeded, in brief space, to appear and

come indifferently in every part of the body; wherefrom, after awhile,

the fashion of the contagion began to change into black or livid

blotches, which showed themselves in many [first] on the arms and

about the thighs and [after spread to] every other part of the person,

in some large and sparse and in others small and thick-sown; and like

as the plague-boils had been first (and yet were) a very certain token

of coming death, even so were these for every one to whom they came.

[Footnote 4: Syn. provisions made or means taken (_consigli dati_).

Boccaccio constantly uses _consiglio_ in this latter sense.]

To the cure of these maladies nor counsel[5] of physician nor virtue

of any medicine appeared to avail or profit aught; on the

contrary,--whether it was that the nature of the infection suffered it

not or that the ignorance of the physicians (of whom, over and above

the men of art, the number, both men and women, who had never had any

teaching of medicine, was become exceeding great,) availed not to know

whence it arose and consequently took not due measures thereagainst,--not

only did few recover thereof, but well nigh all died within the third

day from the appearance of the aforesaid signs, this sooner and that

later, and for the most part without fever or other accident.[6] And

this pestilence was the more virulent for that, by communication with

those who were sick thereof, it gat hold upon the sound, no otherwise

than fire upon things dry or greasy, whenas they are brought very near

thereunto. Nay, the mischief was yet greater; for that not only did

converse and consortion with the sick give to the sound infection of

cause of common death, but the mere touching of the clothes or of

whatsoever other thing had been touched or used of the sick appeared

of itself to communicate the malady to the toucher. A marvellous thing

to hear is that which I have to tell and one which, had it not been

seen of many men's eyes and of mine own, I had scarce dared credit,

much less set down in writing, though I had heard it from one worthy

of belief. I say, then, that of such efficience was the nature of the

pestilence in question in communicating itself from one to another,

that, not only did it pass from man to man, but this, which is much

more, it many times visibly did;--to wit, a thing which had pertained

to a man sick or dead of the aforesaid sickness, being touched by an

animal foreign to the human species, not only infected this latter

with the plague, but in a very brief space of time killed it. Of this

mine own eyes (as hath a little before been said) had one day, among

others, experience on this wise; to wit, that the rags of a poor man,

who had died of the plague, being cast out into the public way, two

hogs came up to them and having first, after their wont, rooted amain

among them with their snouts, took them in their mouths and tossed

them about their jaws; then, in a little while, after turning round

and round, they both, as if they had taken poison, fell down dead upon

the rags with which they had in an ill hour intermeddled.

[Footnote 5: Syn. help, remedy.]
[Footnote 6: _Accidente_, what a modern physician would call

"complication." "Symptom" does not express the whole meaning of the

Italian word.]
From these things and many others like unto them or yet stranger

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