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 Dog-Balls Compounded With Aloes, Whereby It Appeareth That He Himself Hath Had The Pig And They Make Him Pay Blackmail, An He Would Not Have Them Tell His Wife

No sooner had Filostrato despatched his story, which had given rise to many a laugh, than the queen bade Filomena follow on, whereupon she began: "Gracious ladies, even as Filostrato was led by the mention of Maso to tell the story which you have just heard from him, so neither more nor less am I moved by that of Calandrino and his friends to tell you another of them, which methinketh will please you.

Who Calandrino, Bruno and Buffalmacco were I need not explain to you, for that you have already heard it well enough; wherefore, to proceed with my story, I must tell you that Calandrino owned a little farm at no great distance from Florence, that he had had to his wife's dowry. From this farm, amongst other things that he got thence, he had every year a pig, and it was his won't still to betake himself thither, he and his wife, and kill the pig and have it salted on the spot. It chanced one year that, his wife being somewhat ailing, he went himself to kill the pig, which Bruno and Buffalmacco hearing and knowing that his wife was not gone to the farm with him, they repaired to a priest, very great friend of theirs and a neighbor of Calandrino, to sojourn some days with him. Now Calandrino had that very morning killed the pig and seeing them with the priest, called to them saying, 'You are welcome. I would fain have you see what a good husband[382] I am.' Then carrying them into the house, he showed them the pig, which they seeing to be a very fine one and understanding from Calandrino that he meant to salt it down for his family, 'Good lack,' quoth Bruno to him, 'what a ninny thou art! Sell it and let us make merry with the price, and tell thy wife that it hath been stolen from thee.' 'Nay, answered Calandrino, 'she would never believe it and would drive me out of the house. Spare your pains, for I will never do it.' And many were the words, but they availed nothing.

Calandrino invited them to supper, but with so ill a grace that they refused to sup there and took their leave of him; whereupon quoth Bruno and Buffalmacco, 'What sayest thou to stealing yonder pig from him to-night?' 'Marry,' replied the other, 'how can we do it?' Quoth Bruno, 'I can see how well enough, an he remove it not from where it was but now.' 'Then,' rejoined his companion, 'let us do it. Why should we not? And after we will make merry over it with the parson here.' The priest answered that he would well, and Bruno said, 'Here must some little art be used. Thou knowest, Buffalmacco, how niggardly Calandrino is and how gladly he drinketh when others pay; let us go and carry him to the tavern, where the priest shall make believe to pay the whole scot in our honor nor suffer him to pay aught. Calandrino will soon grow fuddled and then we can manage it lightly enough, for that he is alone in the house.' As he said, so they did and Calandrino seeing that the priest suffered none to pay, gave himself up to drinking and took in a good load, albeit it needed no great matter to make him drunk. It was pretty late at night when they left the tavern and Calandrino, without troubling himself about supper, went straight home, where, thinking to have shut the door, he left it open and betook himself to bed. Buffalmacco and Bruno went off to sup with the priest and after supper repaired quietly to Calandrino's house, carrying with them certain implements wherewithal to break in whereas Bruno had appointed it; but, finding the door open, they entered and unhooking the pig, carried it off to the priest's house, where they laid it up and betook themselves to sleep.

On the morrow, Calandrino, having slept off the fumes of the wine, arose in the morning and going down, missed his pig and saw the door open; whereupon he questioned this one and that if they knew who had taken it and getting no news of it, began to make a great outcry, saying, 'Woe is me, miserable wretch that I am!' for that the pig had been stolen from him. As soon as Bruno and Buffalmacco were risen, they repaired to Calandrino's house, to hear what he would say anent the pig, and he no sooner saw them than he called out to them, well nigh weeping, and said, 'Woe's me, comrades mine; my pig hath been stolen from me!' Whereupon Bruno came up to him and said softly, 'It is a marvel that thou hast been wise for once.' 'Alack,' replied Calandrino, 'indeed I say sooth.' 'That's the thing to say,' quoth Bruno. 'Make a great outcry, so it may well appear that it is e'en as thou sayst.' Therewithal Calandrino bawled out yet loudlier, saying, 'Cock's body, I tell thee it hath been stolen from me in good earnest!' 'Good, good,' replied Bruno; 'that's the way to speak; cry out lustily, make thyself well heard, so it may seem true.' Quoth Calandrino, 'Thou wouldst make me give my soul to the Fiend! I tell thee and thou believest me not. May I be strung up by the neck an it have not been stolen from me!' 'Good lack!' cried Bruno. 'How can that be? I saw it here but yesterday. Thinkest thou to make me believe that it hath flown away?' Quoth Calandrino, 'It is as I tell thee.' 'Good lack,' repeated Bruno, 'can it be?' 'Certes,' replied Calandrino, 'it is so, more by token that I am undone and know not how I shall return home. My wife will never believe me; or even if she do, I shall have no peace with her this year to come.' Quoth Bruno, 'So God save me, this is ill done, if it be true; but thou knowest, Calandrino, I lessoned thee yesterday to say thus and I would not have thee at once cozen thy wife and us.' Therewithal Calandrino fell to crying out and saying, 'Alack, why will you drive me to desperation and make me blaspheme God and the Saints? I tell you the pig was stolen from me yesternight.'

Then said Buffalmacco, 'If it be so indeed, we must cast about for a means of having it again, an we may contrive it.' 'But what means,' asked Calandrino, 'can we find?' Quoth Buffalmacco, 'We may be sure that there hath come none from the Indies to rob thee of thy pig; the thief must have been some one of thy neighbors. An thou canst make shift to assemble them, I know how to work the ordeal by bread and cheese and we will presently see for certain who hath had it.' 'Ay,' put in Bruno, 'thou wouldst make a fine thing of bread and cheese with such gentry as we have about here, for one of them I am certain hath had the pig, and he would smoke the trap and would not come.' 'How, then, shall we do?' asked Buffalmacco, and Bruno said, 'We must e'en do it with ginger boluses and good vernage[383] and invite them to drink. They will suspect nothing and come, and the ginger boluses can be blessed even as the bread and cheese.' Quoth Buffalmacco, 'Indeed, thou sayst sooth. What sayst thou, Calandrino? Shall's do 't?' 'Nay,' replied the gull, 'I pray you thereof for the love of God; for, did I but know who hath had it, I should hold myself half consoled.' 'Marry, then,' said Bruno, 'I am ready to go to Florence, to oblige thee, for the things aforesaid, so thou wilt give me the money.' Now Calandrino had maybe forty shillings, which he gave him, and Bruno accordingly repaired to Florence to a friend of his, a druggist, of whom he bought a pound of fine ginger boluses and caused compound a couple of dogballs with fresh confect of hepatic aloes; after which he let cover these latter with sugar, like the others, and set thereon a privy mark by which he might very well know them, so he should not mistake them nor change them. Then, buying a flask of good vernage, he returned to Calandrino in the country and said to him, 'Do thou to-morrow morning invite those whom thou suspectest to drink with thee; it is a holiday and all will willingly come. Meanwhile, Buffalmacco and I will to-night make the conjuration over the pills and bring them to thee to-morrow morning at home; and for the love of thee I will administer them myself and do and say that which is to be said and done.'

Calandrino did as he said and assembled on the following morning a goodly company of such young Florentines as were presently about the village and of husbandmen; whereupon Bruno and Buffalmacco came with a box of pills and the flask of wine and made the folk stand in a ring. Then said Bruno, 'Gentlemen, needs must I tell you the reason wherefore you are here, so that, if aught betide that please you not, you may have no cause to complain of me. Calandrino here was robbed yesternight of a fine pig, nor can he find who hath had it; and for that none other than some one of us who are here can have stolen it from him, he proffereth each of you, that he may discover who hath had it, one of these pills to eat and a draught of wine. Now you must know that he who hath had the pig will not be able to swallow the pill; nay, it will seem to him more bitter than poison and he will spit it out; wherefore, rather than that shame be done him in the presence of so many, he were better tell it to the parson by way of confession and I will proceed no farther with this matter.'

All who were there declared that they would willingly eat of the pills, whereupon Bruno ranged them in order and set Calandrino among them; then, beginning at one end of the line, he proceeded to give each his bolus, and whenas he came over against Calandrino, he took one of the dogballs and put it into his hand. Calandrino clapped it incontinent into his mouth and began to chew it; but no sooner did his tongue taste the aloes, than he spat it out again, being unable to brook the bitterness. Meanwhile, each was looking other in the face, to see who should spit out his bolus, and whilst Bruno, not having made an end of serving them out, went on to do so, feigning to pay no heed to Calandrino's doing, he heard say behind him, 'How now, Calandrino? What meaneth this?' Whereupon he turned suddenly round and seeing that Calandrino had spat out his bolus, said, 'Stay, maybe somewhat else hath caused him spit it out. Take another of them.' Then, taking the other dogball, he thrust it into Calandrino's mouth and went on to finish giving out the rest. If the first ball seemed bitter to Calandrino, the second was bitterer yet; but, being ashamed to spit it out, he kept it awhile in his mouth, chewing it and shedding tears that seemed hazel-nuts so big they were, till at last, unable to hold out longer, he cast it forth, like as he had the first. Meanwhile Buffalmacco and Bruno gave the company to drink, and all, seeing this, declared that Calandrino had certainly stolen the pig from himself; nay, there were those there who rated him roundly.

After they were all gone, and the two rogues left alone with Calandrino, Buffalmacco said to him, 'I still had it for certain that it was thou tookst the pig thyself and wouldst fain make us believe that it had been stolen from thee, to escape giving us one poor while to drink of the monies thou hadst for it.' Calandrino, who was not yet quit of the bitter taste of the aloes, began to swear that he had not had it, and Buffalmacco said, 'But in good earnest, comrade, what gottest thou for it? Was it six florins?' Calandrino, hearing this, began to wax desperate, and Bruno said, 'Harkye, Calandrino, there was such an one in the company that ate and drank with us, who told me that thou hast a wench over yonder, whom thou keepest for thy pleasure and to whom thou givest whatsoever thou canst scrape together, and that he held it for certain that thou hadst sent her the pig. Thou hast learned of late to play pranks of this kind; thou carriedst us off t'other day down the Mugnone, picking up black stones, and whenas thou hadst gotten us aboard ship without biscuit,[384] thou madest off and wouldst after have us believe that thou hadst found the magic stone; and now on like wise thou thinkest, by dint of oaths, to make us believe that the pig, which thou hast given away or more like sold, hath been stolen from thee. But we are used to thy tricks and know them; thou shalt not avail to play us any more of them, and to be plain with thee, since we have been at pains to make the conjuration, we mean that thou shalt give us two pairs of capons; else will we tell Mistress Tessa everything.' Calandrino, seeing that he was not believed and himseeming he had had vexation enough, without having his wife's scolding into the bargain, gave them two pairs of capons, which they carried off to Florence, after they had salted the pig, leaving Calandrino to digest the loss and the flouting as best he might."


[382] i.e. in the old sense of "manager" (massajo).

[383] i.e. white wine, see p. 372, note.

[384] i.e. embarked on a bootless quest.
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