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

After Elisa had finished her story and all the ladies had returned thanks to God, who had with a happy issue delivered the young nun from the claws of her envious companions, the queen bade Filostrato follow on, and he, without awaiting further commandment, began, "Fairest ladies, the unmannerly lout of a Marchegan judge, of whom I told you yesterday, took out of my mouth a story of Calandrino and his companions, which I was about to relate; and for that, albeit it hath been much discoursed of him and them, aught that is told of him cannot do otherwise than add to our merriment, I will e'en tell you that which I had then in mind.

It hath already been clearly enough shown who Calandrino was and who were the others of whom I am to speak in this story, wherefore, without further preface, I shall tell you that an aunt of his chanced to die and left him two hundred crowns in small coin; whereupon he fell a-talking of wishing to buy an estate and entered into treaty with all the brokers in Florence, as if he had ten thousand gold florins to expend; but the matter still fell through, when they came to the price of the estate in question. Bruno and Buffalmacco, knowing all this, had told him once and again that he were better spend the money in making merry together with them than go buy land, as if he had had to make pellets;[426] but, far from this, they had never even availed to bring him to give them once to eat. One day, as they were complaining of this, there came up a comrade of theirs, a painter by name Nello, and they all three took counsel together how they might find a means of greasing their gullets at Calandrino's expense; wherefore, without more delay, having agreed among themselves of that which was to do, they watched next morning for his coming forth of his house, nor had he gone far when Nello accosted him, saying, 'Good-day, Calandrino.' Calandrino answered God give him good day and good year, and Nello, halting awhile, fell to looking him in the face; whereupon Calandrino asked him, 'At what lookest thou?' Quoth the painter, 'Hath aught ailed thee this night? Meseemeth thou are not thyself this morning.' Calandrino incontinent began to quake and said, 'Alack, how so? What deemest thou aileth me?' 'Egad,' answered Nello, 'as for that I can't say; but thou seemest to me all changed; belike it is nothing.' So saying, he let him pass, and Calandrino fared on, all misdoubtful, albeit he felt no whit ailing; but Buffalmacco, who was not far off, seeing him quit of Nello, made for him and saluting him, enquired if aught ailed him. Quoth Calandrino, 'I know not; nay, Nello told me but now that I seemed to him all changed. Can it be that aught aileth me?' 'Ay,' rejoined Buffalmacco, 'there must e'en be something or other amiss with thee, for thou appearest half dead.'

By this time it seemed to Calandrino that he had the fevers, when, lo, up came Bruno and the first thing he said was, 'Calandrino, what manner of face is this?' Calandrino, hearing them all in the same tale, held it for certain that he was in an ill way and asked them, all aghast, 'what shall I do?' Quoth Bruno, 'Methinketh thou wert best return home and get thee to bed and cover thyself well and send thy water to Master Simone the doctor, who is, as thou knowest, as our very creature and will tell thee incontinent what thou must do. We will go with thee and if it behoveth to do aught, we will do it.' Accordingly, Nello having joined himself to them, they returned home with Calandrino, who betook himself, all dejected, into the bedchamber and said to his wife, 'Come, cover me well, for I feel myself sore disordered.' Then, laying himself down, he despatched his water by a little maid to Master Simone, who then kept shop in the Old Market, at the sign of the Pumpkin, whilst Bruno said to his comrades, 'Abide you here with him, whilst I go hear what the doctor saith and bring him hither, if need be.' 'Ay, for God's sake, comrade mine,' cried Calandrino, 'go thither and bring me back word how the case standeth, for I feel I know not what within me.'

Accordingly, Bruno posted off to Master Simone and coming thither before the girl who brought the water, acquainted him with the case; wherefore, the maid being come and the physician, having seen the water, he said to her, 'Begone and bid Calandrino keep himself well warm, and I will come to him incontinent and tell him that which aileth him and what he must do.' The maid reported this to her master nor was it long before the physician and Bruno came, whereupon the former, seating himself beside Calandrino, fell to feeling his pulse and presently, the patient's wife being there present, he said, 'Harkye, Calandrino, to speak to thee as a friend, there aileth thee nought but that thou art with child.' When Calandrino heard this, he fell a-roaring for dolour and said, 'Woe's me! Tessa, this is thy doing, for that thou wilt still be uppermost; I told thee how it would be.' The lady, who was a very modest person, hearing her husband speak thus, blushed all red for shamefastness and hanging her head, went out of the room, without answering a word; whilst Calandrino, pursuing his complaint, said, 'Alack, wretch that I am! How shall I do? How shall I bring forth this child? Whence shall he issue? I see plainly I am a dead man, through the mad lust of yonder wife of mine, whom God make as woeful as I would fain be glad! Were I as well as I am not, I would arise and deal her so many and such buffets that I would break every bone in her body; albeit it e'en serveth me right, for that I should never have suffered her get the upper hand; but, for certain, an I come off alive this time, she may die of desire ere she do it again.

Bruno and Buffalmacco and Nello were like to burst with laughter, hearing Calandrino's words; however, they contained themselves, but Doctor Simple-Simon[427] laughed so immoderately that you might have drawn every tooth in his head. Finally, Calandrino commending himself to the physician and praying him give him aid and counsel in this his strait, the latter said to him, 'Calandrino, I will not have thee lose heart; for, praised be God, we have taken the case so betimes that, in a few days and with a little trouble, I will deliver thee thereof; but it will cost thee some little expense.' 'Alack, doctor mine,' cried Calandrino, 'ay, for the love of God, do it! I have here two hundred crowns, wherewith I was minded to buy me an estate; take them all, if need be, so I be not brought to bed; for I know not how I should do, seeing I hear women make such a terrible outcry, whereas they are about to bear child, for all they have ample commodity therefor, that methinketh, if I had that pain to suffer, I should die ere I came to the bringing forth.' Quoth the doctor, 'Have no fear of that; I will let make thee a certain ptisan of distilled waters, very good and pleasant to drink, which will in three mornings' time carry off everything and leave thee sounder than a fish; but look thou be more discreet for the future and suffer not thyself fall again into these follies. Now for this water it behoveth us have three pairs of fine fat capons, and for other things that are required thereanent, do thou give one of these (thy comrades) five silver crowns, so he may buy them, and let carry everything to my shop; and to-morrow, in God's name, I will send thee the distilled water aforesaid, whereof thou shalt proceed to drink a good beakerful at a time.' 'Doctor mine,' replied Calandrino, 'I put myself in your hands'; and giving Bruno five crowns and money for three pairs of capons, he besought him to oblige him by taking the pains to buy these things.

The physician then took his leave and letting make a little clary,[428] despatched it to Calandrino, whilst Bruno, buying the capons and other things necessary for making good cheer, ate them in company with his comrades and Master Simone. Calandrino drank of his clary three mornings, after which the doctor came to him, together with his comrades, and feeling his pulse, said to him, 'Calandrino, thou art certainly cured; wherefore henceforth thou mayst safely go about thine every business nor abide longer at home for this.' Accordingly, Calandrino arose, overjoyed, and went about his occasions, mightily extolling, as often as he happened to speak with any one, the fine cure that Master Simone had wrought of him, in that he had unbegotten him with child in three days' time, without any pain; whilst Bruno and Buffalmacco and Nello abode well pleased at having contrived with this device to overreach his niggardliness, albeit Dame Tessa, smoking the cheat, rated her husband amain thereanent."


[426] i.e. balls for a pellet bow, usually made out of clay. Bruno and Buffalmacco were punning upon the double meaning, land and earth (or clay), of the word terra.

[427] Scimmione (lit. ape), a contemptuous distortion of Simone.

[428] Chiarea. According to the commentators, the composition of this drink is unknown, but that of clary, a sort of hippocras or spiced wine clear-strained (whence the name), offers no difficulty to the student of old English literature.
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