The Third Story
Pietro Boccamazza, Fleeing With Agnolella, Falleth Among Thieves; The Girl Escapeth Through A Wood And Is Led [By Fortune] To A Castle, Whilst Pietro Is Taken By The Thieves, But Presently, Escaping From Their Hands, Winneth, After Divers Adventures, To The Castle Where His Mistress Is And Espousing Her, Returneth With Her To Rome
There was none among all the company but commended Emilia's story, which the queen seeing to be finished, turned to Elisa and bade her follow on. Accordingly, studious to obey, she began: "There occurreth to my mind, charming ladies, an ill night passed by a pair of indiscreet young lovers; but, for that many happy days ensued thereon, it pleaseth me to tell the story, as one that conformeth to our proposition.
There was, a little while agone, at Rome,—once the head, as it is nowadays the tail of the world,—a youth, called Pietro Boccamazza, of a very worshipful family among those of the city, who fell in love with a very fair and lovesome damsel called Agnolella, the daughter of one Gigliuozzo Saullo, a plebeian, but very dear to the Romans, and loving her, he contrived so to do that the girl began to love him no less than he loved her; whereupon, constrained by fervent love and himseeming he might no longer brook the cruel pain that the desire he had of her gave him, he demanded her in marriage; which no sooner did his kinsfolk know than they all repaired to him and chid him sore for that which he would have done; and on the other hand they gave Gigliuozzo to understand that he should make no account of Pietro's words, for that, an he did this, they would never have him for friend or kinsman. Pietro seeing that way barred whereby alone he deemed he might avail to win to his desire, was like to die of chagrin, and had Gigliuozzo consented, he would have taken his daughter to wife, in despite of all his kindred. However, he determined, an it liked the girl, to contrive to give effect to their wishes, and having assured himself, by means of an intermediary, that this was agreeable to her, he agreed with her that she should flee with him from Rome.
Accordingly, having taken order for this, Pietro arose very early one morning and taking horse with the damsel, set out for Anagni, where he had certain friends in whom he trusted greatly. They had no leisure to make a wedding of it, for that they feared to be followed, but rode on, devising of their love and now and again kissing one another. It chanced that, when they came mayhap eight miles from Rome, the way not being overwell known to Pietro, they took a path to the left, whereas they should have kept to the right; and scarce had they ridden more than two miles farther when they found themselves near a little castle, wherefrom, as soon as they were seen, there issued suddenly a dozen footmen. The girl, espying these, whenas they were already close upon them, cried out, saying, 'Pietro, let us begone, for we are attacked'; then, turning her rouncey's head, as best she knew, towards a great wood hard by, she clapped her spurs fast to his flank and held on to the saddlebow, whereupon the nag, feeling himself goaded, bore her into the wood at a gallop.
Pietro, who went gazing more at her face than at the road, not having become so quickly aware as she of the new comers, was overtaken and seized by them, whilst he still looked, without yet perceiving them, to see whence they should come. They made him alight from his hackney and enquired who he was, which he having told, they proceeded to take counsel together and said, 'This fellow is of the friends of our enemies; what else should we do but take from him these clothes and this nag and string him up to one of yonder oaks, to spite the Orsini?' They all fell in with this counsel and bade Pietro put off his clothes, which as he was in act to do, foreboding him by this of the ill fate which awaited him, it chanced that an ambush of good five-and-twenty footmen started suddenly out upon the others, crying, 'Kill! Kill!' The rogues, taken by surprise, let Pietro be and turned to stand upon their defence, but, seeing themselves greatly outnumbered by their assailants, betook themselves to flight, whilst the others pursued them.
Pietro, seeing this, hurriedly caught up his gear and springing on his hackney, addressed himself, as best he might, to flee by the way he had seen his mistress take; but finding her not and seeing neither road nor footpath in the wood neither perceiving any horse's hoof marks, he was the woefullest man alive; and as soon as himseemed he was safe and out of reach of those who had taken him, as well as of the others by whom they had been assailed, he began to drive hither and thither about the wood, weeping and calling; but none answered him and he dared not turn back and knew not where he might come, an he went forward, more by token that he was in fear of the wild beasts that use to harbour in the woods, at once for himself and for his mistress, whom he looked momently to see strangled of some bear or some wolf. On this wise, then, did the unlucky Pietro range all day about the wood, crying and calling, whiles going backward, when as he thought to go forward, until, what with shouting and weeping and fear and long fasting, he was so spent that he could no more and seeing the night come and knowing not what other course to take, he dismounted from his hackney and tied the latter to a great oak, into which he climbed, so he might not be devoured of the wild beasts in the night. A little after the moon rose and the night being very clear and bright, he abode there on wake, sighing and weeping and cursing his ill luck, for that he durst not go to sleep, lest he should fall, albeit, had he had more commodity thereof, grief and the concern in which he was for his mistress would not have suffered him to sleep.
Meanwhile, the damsel, fleeing, as we have before said, and knowing not whither to betake herself, save whereas it seemed good to her hackney to carry her, fared on so far into the wood that she could not see where she had entered, and went wandering all day about that desert place, no otherwise than as Pietro had done, now pausing [to hearken] and now going on, weeping the while and calling and making moan of her illhap. At last, seeing that Pietro came not and it being now eventide, she happened on a little path, into which her hackney turned, and following it, after she had ridden some two or more miles she saw a little house afar off. Thither she made her way as quickliest she might and found there a good man sore stricken in years and a woman, his wife alike old, who, seeing her alone, said to her, 'Daughter, what dost thou alone at this hour in these parts?' The damsel replied, weeping, that she had lost her company in the wood and enquired how near she was to Anagni. 'Daughter mine,' answered the good man, 'this is not the way to go to Anagni; it is more than a dozen miles hence.' Quoth the girl, 'And how far is it hence to any habitations where I may have a lodging for the night?' To which the good man answered, 'There is none anywhere so near that thou mayst come thither by daylight.' Then said the damsel, 'Since I can go no otherwhere, will it please you harbour me here to-night for the love of God?' 'Young lady,' replied the old man, 'thou art very welcome to abide with us this night; algates, we must warn you that there are many ill companies, both of friends and of foes that come and go about these parts both by day and by night, who many a time do us sore annoy and great mischief; and if, by ill chance, thou being here, there come any of them and seeing thee, fair and young as thou art, should offer to do thee affront and shame, we could not avail to succour thee therefrom. We deem it well to apprise thee of this, so that, an it betide, thou mayst not be able to complain of us.'
The girl, seeing that it was late, albeit the old man's words affrighted her, said, 'An it please God, He will keep both you and me from that annoy; and even if it befall me, it were a much less evil to be maltreated of men than to be mangled of the wild beasts in the woods.' So saying, she alighted from the rouncey and entered the poor man's house, where she supped with him on such poor fare as they had and after, all clad as she was, cast herself, together with them, on a little bed of theirs. She gave not over sighing and bewailing her own mishap and that of Pietro all night, knowing not if she might hope other than ill of him; and when it drew near unto morning, she heard a great trampling of folk approaching, whereupon she arose and betaking herself to a great courtyard, that lay behind the little house, saw in a corner a great heap of hay, in which she hid herself, so she might not be so quickly found, if those folk should come thither. Hardly had she made an end of hiding herself when these, who were a great company of ill knaves, came to the door of the little house and causing open to them, entered and found Agnolella's hackney yet all saddled and bridled; whereupon they asked who was there and the good man, not seeing the girl, answered, 'None is here save ourselves; but this rouncey, from whomsoever it may have escaped, came hither yestereve and we brought it into the house, lest the wolves should eat it.' 'Then,' said the captain of the troop, 'since it hath none other master, it is fair prize for us.'
Thereupon they all dispersed about the little house and some went into the courtyard, where, laying down their lances and targets, it chanced that one of them, knowing not what else to do, cast his lance into the hay and came very near to slay the hidden girl and she to discover herself, for that the lance passed so close to her left breast that the steel tore a part of her dress, wherefore she was like to utter a great cry, fearing to be wounded; but, remembering where she was, she abode still, all fear-stricken. Presently, the rogues, having dressed the kids and other meat they had with them and eaten and drunken, went off, some hither and some thither, about their affairs, and carried with them the girl's hackney. When they had gone some distance, the good man asked his wife, 'What befell of our young woman, who came thither yestereve? I have seen nothing of her since we arose.' The good wife replied that she knew not and went looking for her, whereupon the girl, hearing that the rogues were gone, came forth of the hay, to the no small contentment of her host, who, rejoiced to see that she had not fallen into their hands, said to her, it now growing day, 'Now that the day cometh, we will, an it please thee, accompany thee to a castle five miles hence, where thou wilt be in safety; but needs must thou go afoot, for yonder ill folk, that now departed hence, have carried off thy rouncey.' The girl concerned herself little about the nag, but besought them for God's sake to bring her to the castle in question, whereupon they set out and came thither about half tierce.
Now this castle belonged to one of the Orsini family, by name Lionello di Campodifiore, and there by chance was his wife, a very pious and good lady, who, seeing the girl, knew her forthright and received her with joy and would fain know orderly how she came thither. Agnolella told her all and the lady, who knew Pietro on like wise, as being a friend of her husband's, was grieved for the ill chance that had betided and hearing where he had been taken, doubted not but he was dead; wherefore she said to Agnolella, 'Since thou knowest not what is come of Pietro, thou shalt abide here till such time as I shall have a commodity to send thee safe to Rome.'
Meanwhile Pietro abode, as woebegone as could be, in the oak, and towards the season of the first sleep, he saw a good score of wolves appear, which came all about his hackney, as soon as they saw him. The horse, scenting them, tugged at his bridle, till he broke it, and would have fled, but being surrounded and unable to escape, he defended himself a great while with his teeth and his hoofs. At last, however, he was brought down and strangled and quickly disembowelled by the wolves, which took all their fill of his flesh and having devoured him, made off, without leaving aught but the bones, whereat Pietro, to whom it seemed he had in the rouncey a companion and a support in his troubles, was sore dismayed and misdoubted he should never avail to win forth of the wood. However, towards daybreak, being perished with cold in the oak and looking still all about him, he caught sight of a great fire before him, mayhap a mile off, wherefore, as soon as it was grown broad day, he came down from the oak, not without fear, and making for the fire, fared on till he came to the place, where he found shepherds eating and making merry about it, by whom he was received for compassion.
After he had eaten and warmed himself, he acquainted them with his misadventure and telling them how he came thither alone, asked them if there was in those parts a village or castle, to which he might betake himself. The shepherds answered that some three miles thence there was a castle belonging to Lionello di Campodifiore, whose lady was presently there; whereat Pietro was much rejoiced and besought them that one of them should accompany him to the castle, which two of them readily did. There he found some who knew him and was in act to enquire for a means of having search made about the forest for the damsel, when he was bidden to the lady's presence and incontinent repaired to her. Never was joy like unto his, when he saw Agnolella with her, and he was all consumed with desire to embrace her, but forbore of respect for the lady, and if he was glad, the girl's joy was no less great. The gentle lady, having welcomed him and made much of him and heard from him what had betided him, chid him amain of that which he would have done against the will of his kinsfolk; but, seeing that he was e'en resolved upon this and that it was agreeable to the girl also, she said in herself, 'Why do I weary myself in vain? These two love and know each other and both are friends of my husband. Their desire is an honourable one and meseemeth it is pleasing to God, since the one of them hath scaped the gibbet and the other the lance-thrust and both the wild beasts of the wood; wherefore be it as they will.' Then, turning to the lovers, she said to them, 'If you have it still at heart to be man and wife, it is my pleasure also; be it so, and let the nuptials be celebrated here at Lionello's expense. I will engage after to make peace between you and your families.' Accordingly, they were married then and there, to the great contentment of Pietro and the yet greater satisfaction of Agnolella, and the gentle lady made them honourable nuptials, in so far as might be in the mountains. There, with the utmost delight, they enjoyed the first-fruits of their love and a few days after, they took horse with the lady and returned, under good escort, to Rome, where she found Pietro's kinsfolk sore incensed at that which he had done, but contrived to make his peace with them, and he lived with his Agnolella in all peace and pleasance to a good old age."
 Clement V. early in the fourteenth century removed the Papal See to Avignon, where it continued to be during the reigns of the five succeeding Popes, Rome being in the meantime abandoned by the Papal Court, till Gregory XI, in the year 1376 again took up his residence at the latter city. It is apparently to this circumstance that Boccaccio alludes in the text.