Here Beginneth the Sixth Day of the Decameron Wherein Under the Governance of Elisa Is Discoursed of Whoso Being Assailed With Some Jibing Speech Hath Vindicated Himself or Hath With Some Ready Reply or Advisement Escaped Loss, Peril or Shame

The moon, being now in the middest heaven, had lost its radiance and every part of our world was bright with the new coming light, when, the queen arising and letting call her company, they all with slow step fared forth and rambled over the dewy grass to a little distance from the fair hill, holding various discourse of one thing and another and debating of the more or less goodliness of the stories told, what while they renewed their laughter at the various adventures related therein, till such time as the sun mounting high and beginning to wax hot, it seemed well to them all to turn homeward. Wherefore, reversing their steps, they returned to the palace and there, by the queen's commandment, the tables being already laid and everything strewn with sweet-scented herbs and fair flowers, they addressed themselves to eat, ere the heat should grow greater. This being joyously accomplished, ere they did otherwhat, they sang divers goodly and pleasant canzonets, after which some went to sleep, whilst some sat down to play at chess and other some at tables and Dioneo fell to singing, in concert with Lauretta, of Troilus and Cressida. Then, the hour come for their reassembling after the wonted fashion,[294] they all, being summoned on the part of the queen, seated themselves, as of their usance, about the fountain; but, as she was about to call for the first story, there befell a thing that had not yet befallen there, to wit, that a great clamour was heard by her and by all, made by the wenches and serving-men in the kitchen.

The seneschal, being called and questioned who it was that cried thus and what might be the occasion of the turmoil, answered that the clamour was between Licisca and Tindaro, but that he knew not the cause thereof, being but then come thither to make them bide quiet, whenas he had been summoned on her part. The queen bade him incontinent fetch thither the two offenders and they being come, enquired what was the cause of their clamour; whereto Tindaro offering to reply, Licisca, who was well in years and somewhat overmasterful, being heated with the outcry she had made, turned to him with an angry air and said, "Mark this brute of a man who dareth to speak before me, whereas I am! Let me speak." Then, turning again to the queen, "Madam," quoth she, "this fellow would teach me, forsooth, to know Sicofante's wife and neither more nor less than as if I had not been familiar with her, would fain give me to believe that, the first night her husband lay with her, Squire Maul[295] made his entry into Black Hill[296] by force and with effusion of blood; and I say that it is not true; nay, he entered there in peace and to the great contentment of those within. Marry, this fellow is simple enough to believe wenches to be such ninnies that they stand to lose their time, abiding the commodity of their fathers and brothers, who six times out of seven tarry three or four years more than they should to marry them. Well would they fare, forsooth, were they to wait so long! By Christ His faith (and I should know what I say, when I swear thus) I have not a single gossip who went a maid to her husband; and as for the wives, I know full well how many and what tricks they play their husbands; and this blockhead would teach me to know women, as if I had been born yesterday."

What while Licisca spoke, the ladies kept up such a laughing that you might have drawn all their teeth; and the queen imposed silence upon her a good half dozen times, but to no purpose; she stinted not till she had said her say. When she had at last made an end of her talk, the queen turned to Dioneo and said, laughing, "Dioneo, this is a matter for thy jurisdiction; wherefore, when we shall have made an end of our stories, thou shalt proceed to give final judgment thereon." Whereto he answered promptly, "Madam, the judgment is already given, without hearing more of the matter; and I say that Licisca is in the right and opine that it is even as she saith and that Tindaro is an ass." Licisca, hearing this, fell a-laughing and turning to Tindaro, said, "I told thee so; begone and God go with thee; thinkest thou thou knowest better than I, thou whose eyes are not yet dry?[297] Gramercy, I have not lived here below for nothing, no, not I!" And had not the queen with an angry air imposed silence on her and sent her and Tindaro away, bidding her make no more words or clamour, an she would not be flogged, they had had nought to do all that day but attend to her. When they were gone, the queen called on Filomena to make a beginning with the day's stories and she blithely began thus:

Footnotes

[294] Lit. for their returning to consistory (del dovere a concistoro tornare).

[295] Messer Mazza, i.e. veretrum.

[296] Monte Nero, i.e. vas muliebre.

[297] i.e. who are yet a child, in modern parlance, "Thou whose lips are yet wet with thy mother's milk."
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Decameron (Day The Fifty Fifth) Lyrics

Giovanni Boccaccio – Decameron (Day The Fifty Fifth) Lyrics