The Seventh Story

Simona Loveth Pasquino And They Being Together In A Garden, The Latter Rubbeth A Leaf Of Sage Against His Teeth And Dieth. She, Being Taken And Thinking To Show The Judge How Her Lover Died, Rubbeth One Of The Same Leaves Against Her Teeth And Dieth On Like Wise

Pamfilo having delivered himself of his story, the king, showing no compassion for Andrevuola, looked at Emilia and signed to her that it was his pleasure she should with a story follow on those who had already told; whereupon she, without delay, began as follows: "Dear companions, the story told by Pamfilo putteth me in mind to tell you one in nothing like unto his save that like as Andrevuola lost her beloved in a garden, even so did she of whom I have to tell, and being taken in like manner as was Andrevuola, freed herself from the court, not by dint of fortitude nor constancy, but by an unlooked-for death. And as hath otherwhile been said amongst us, albeit Love liefer inhabiteth the houses of the great, yet not therefor doth he decline the empery of those of the poor; nay, whiles in these latter he so manifesteth his power that he maketh himself feared, as a most puissant seignior, of the richer sort. This, if not in all, yet in great part, will appear from my story, with which it pleaseth me to re-enter our own city, wherefrom this day, discoursing diversely of divers things and ranging over various parts of the world, we have so far departed.

There was, then, no great while ago, in Florence a damsel very handsome and agreeable, according to her condition, who was the daughter of a poor father and was called Simona; and although it behoved her with her own hands earn the bread she would eat and sustain her life by spinning wool, she was not therefor of so poor a spirit but that she dared to admit into her heart Love, which,—by means of the pleasing words and fashions of a youth of no greater account than herself, who went giving wool to spin for a master of his, a wool-monger,—had long made a show of wishing to enter there. Having, then, received Him into her bosom with the pleasing aspect of the youth who loved her whose name was Pasquino, she heaved a thousand sighs, hotter than fire, at every hank of yarn she wound about the spindle, bethinking her of him who had given it her to spin and ardently desiring, but venturing not to do more. He, on his side, grown exceeding anxious that his master's wool should be well spun, overlooked Simona's spinning more diligently than that of any other, as if the yarn spun by her alone and none other were to furnish forth the whole cloth; wherefore, the one soliciting and the other delighting to be solicited, it befell that, he growing bolder than of his won't and she laying aside much of the timidity and shamefastness she was used to feel, they gave themselves up with a common accord to mutual pleasures, which were so pleasing to both that not only did neither wait to be bidden thereto of the other, but each forewent other in the matter of invitation.

Ensuing this their delight from day to day and waxing ever more enkindled for continuance, it chanced one day that Pasquino told Simona he would fain have her find means to come to a garden, whither he wished to carry her so they might there foregather more at their ease and with less suspect. Simona answered that she would well and accordingly on Sunday, after eating, giving her father to believe that she meant to go a-pardoning to San Gallo,[250] she betook herself, with a friend of hers, called Lagina, to the garden appointed her of Pasquino. There she found him with a comrade of his, whose name was Puccino, but who was commonly called Stramba,[251] and an amorous acquaintance being quickly clapped up between the latter and Lagina, Simona and her lover withdrew to one part of the garden, to do their pleasure, leaving Stramba and Lagina in another.

Now in that part of the garden, whither Pasquino and Simona had betaken themselves, was a very great and goodly bush of sage, at the foot whereof they sat down and solaced themselves together a great while, holding much discourse of a collation they purposed to make there at their leisure. Presently, Pasquino turned to the great sage-bush and plucking a leaf thereof, began to rub his teeth and gums withal, avouching that sage cleaned them excellent well of aught that might be left thereon after eating. After he had thus rubbed them awhile, he returned to the subject of the collation, of which he had already spoken, nor had he long pursued his discourse when he began altogether to change countenance and well nigh immediately after lost sight and speech, and in a little while he died. Simona, seeing this, fell to weeping and crying out and called Stramba and Lagina, who ran thither in haste and seeing Pasquino not only dead, but already grown all swollen and full of dark spots about his face and body, Stramba cried out of a sudden, 'Ah, wicked woman! Thou hast poisoned him.' Making a great outcry, he was heard of many who dwelt near the garden and who, running to the clamour, found Pasquino dead and swollen.

Hearing Stramba lamenting and accusing Simona of having poisoned him of her malice, whilst she, for dolour of the sudden mishap that had carried off her lover, knew not how to excuse herself, being as it were beside herself, they all concluded that it was as he said; and accordingly she was taken and carried off, still weeping sore, to the Provost's palace, where, at the instance of Stramba and other two comrades of Pasquino, by name Atticciato and Malagevole, who had come up meanwhile, a judge addressed himself without delay to examine her of the fact and being unable to discover that she had done malice in the matter or was anywise guilty, he bethought himself, in her presence, to view the dead body and the place and manner of the mishap, as recounted to him by her, for that he apprehended it not very well by her words.

Accordingly, he let bring her, without any stir, whereas Pasquino's body lay yet, swollen as it were a tun, and himself following her thither, marvelled at the dead man and asked her how it had been; whereupon, going up to the sage-bush, she recounted to him all the foregoing story and to give him more fully to understand how the thing had befallen, she did even as Pasquino had done and rubbed one of the sage-leaves against her teeth. Then,—whilst her words were, in the judge's presence, flouted by Stramba and Atticciato and the other friends and comrades of Pasquino as frivolous and vain and they all denounced her wickedness with the more instance, demanding nothing less than that the fire should be the punishment of such perversity,—the wretched girl, who abode all confounded for dolour of her lost lover and fear of the punishment demanded by Stramba fell, for having rubbed the sage against her teeth, into that same mischance, whereinto her lover had fallen [and dropped dead], to the no small wonderment of as many as were present. O happy souls, to whom it fell in one same day to terminate at once your fervent love and your mortal life! Happier yet, an ye went together to one same place! And most happy, if folk love in the other life and ye love there as you loved here below! But happiest beyond compare,—at least in our judgment who abide after her on life,—was Simona's soul, whose innocence fortune suffered not to fall under the testimony of Stramba and Atticciato and Malagevole, wool-carders belike or men of yet meaner condition, finding her a more honourable way, with a death like unto that of her lover, to deliver herself from their calumnies and to follow the soul, so dearly loved of her, of her Pasquino.

The judge, in a manner astonied, as were likewise as many as were there, at this mischance and unknowing what to say, abode long silent; then, recollecting himself, he said, 'It seemeth this sage is poisonous, the which is not won't to happen of sage. But, so it may not avail to offend on this wise against any other, be it cut down even to the roots and cast into the fire.' This the keeper of the garden proceeded to do in the judge's presence, and no sooner had he levelled the great bush with the ground than the cause of the death of the two unfortunate lovers appeared; for thereunder was a toad of marvellous bigness, by whose pestiferous breath they concluded the sage to have become venomous. None daring approach the beast, they made a great hedge of brushwood about it and there burnt it, together with the sage. So ended the judge's inquest upon the death of the unfortunate Pasquino, who, together with his Simona, all swollen as they were, was buried by Stramba and Atticciato and Guccio Imbratta and Malagevole in the church of St. Paul, whereof it chanced they were parishioners."

Footnotes

[250] i.e. to attend the ecclesiastical function called a Pardon, with which word, used in this sense, Meyerbeer's opera of Dinorah (properly Le Pardon de Ploërmel) has familiarized opera-goers. A Pardon is a sort of minor jubilee of the Roman Catholic Church, held in honour of some local saint, at which certain indulgences and remissions of sins (hence the name) are granted to the faithful attending the services of the occasion.

[251] i.e. Bandy-legs.
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