The Sixth Story

Two Young Gentlemen Lodge The Night With An Innkeeper, Whereof One Goeth To Lie With The Host's Daughter, Whilst His Wife Unwittingly Coucheth With The Other; After Which He Who Lay With The Girl Getteth Him To Bed With Her Father And Telleth Him All, Thinking To Bespeak His Comrade. Therewithal They Come To Words, But The Wife, Perceiving Her Mistake, Entereth Her Daughter's Bed And Thence With Certain Words Appeaseth Everything

Calandrino, who had otherwhiles afforded the company matter for laughter, made them laugh this time also, and whenas the ladies had left devising of his fashions, the queen bade Pamfilo tell, whereupon quoth he, "Laudable ladies, the name of Niccolosa, Calandrino's mistress, hath brought me back to mind a story of another Niccolosa, which it pleaseth me to tell you, for that therein you shall see how a goodwife's ready wit did away a great scandal.

In the plain of Mugnone there was not long since a good man who gave wayfarers to eat and drink for their money, and although he was poor and had but a small house, he bytimes at a pinch gave, not every one, but sundry acquaintances, a night's lodging. He had a wife, a very handsome woman, by whom he had two children, whereof one was a fine buxom lass of some fifteen or sixteen years of age, who was not yet married, and the other a little child, not yet a year old, whom his mother herself suckled. Now a young gentleman of our city, a sprightly and pleasant youth, who was often in those parts, had cast his eyes on the girl and loved her ardently; and she, who gloried greatly in being beloved of a youth of his quality, whilst studying with pleasing fashions to maintain him in her love, became no less enamoured of him, and more than once, by mutual accord, this their love had had the desired effect, but that Pinuccio (for such was the young man's name) feared to bring reproach upon his mistress and himself. However, his ardour waxing from day to day, he could no longer master his desire to foregather with her and bethought himself to find a means of harbouring with her father, doubting not, from his acquaintance with the ordinance of the latter's house, but he might in that event contrive to pass the night in her company, without any being the wiser; and no sooner had he conceived this design than he proceeded without delay to carry it into execution.

Accordingly, in company with a trusty friend of his called Adriano, who knew his love, he late one evening hired a couple of hackneys and set thereon two pairs of saddle-bags, filled belike with straw, with which they set out from Florence and fetching a compass, rode till they came overagainst the plain of Mugnone, it being by this night; then, turning about, as they were on their way back from Romagna, they made for the good man's house and knocked at the door. The host, being very familiar with both of them, promptly opened the door and Pinuccio said to him, 'Look you, thou must needs harbour us this night. We thought to reach Florence before dark, but have not availed to make such haste but that we find ourselves here, as thou seest at this hour.' 'Pinuccio,' answered the host, 'thou well knowest how little commodity I have to lodge such men as you are; however, since the night hath e'en overtaken you here and there is no time for you to go otherwhere, I will gladly harbour you as I may.' The two young men accordingly alighted and entered the inn, where they first eased[434] their hackneys and after supper with the host, having taken good care to bring provision with them.

Now the good man had but one very small bedchamber, wherein were three pallet-beds set as best he knew, two at one end of the room and the third overagainst them at the other end; nor for all that was there so much space left that one could go there otherwise than straitly. The least ill of the three the host let make ready for the two friends and put them to lie there; then, after a while neither of the gentlemen being asleep, though both made a show thereof, he caused his daughter betake herself to bed in one of the two others and lay down himself in the third, with his wife, who set by the bedside the cradle wherein she had her little son. Things being ordered after this fashion and Pinuccio having seen everything, after a while, himseeming that every one was asleep, he arose softly and going to the bed where slept the girl beloved of him, laid himself beside the latter, by whom, for all she did it timorously, he was joyfully received, and with her he proceeded to take of that pleasure which both most desired. Whilst Pinuccio abode thus with his mistress, it chanced that a cat caused certain things fall, which the good wife, awaking, heard; whereupon, fearing lest it were otherwhat, she arose, as she was, in the dark and betook herself whereas she had heard the noise.

Meanwhile, Adriano, without intent aforethought, arose by chance for some natural occasion and going to despatch this, came upon the cradle, whereas it had been set by the good wife, and unable to pass without moving it, took it up and set it down beside his own bed; then, having accomplished that for which he had arisen, he returned and betook himself to bed again, without recking of the cradle. The good wife, having searched and found the thing which had fallen was not what she thought, never troubled herself to kindle a light, to see it, but, chiding the cat, returned to the chamber and groped her way to the bed where her husband lay. Finding the cradle not there, 'Mercy o' me!' quoth she in herself. 'See what I was about to do! As I am a Christian, I had well nigh gone straight to our guest's bed.' Then, going a little farther and finding the cradle, she entered the bed whereby it stood and laid herself down beside Adriano, thinking to couch with her husband. Adriano, who was not yet asleep, feeling this, received her well and joyously and laying her aboard in a trice, clapped on all sail, to the no small contentment of the lady.

Meanwhile, Pinuccio, fearing lest sleep should surprise him with his lass and having taken of her his fill of pleasure, arose from her, to return to his own bed, to sleep, and finding the cradle in his way, took the adjoining bed for that of his host; wherefore, going a little farther, he lay down with the latter, who awoke at his coming. Pinuccio, deeming himself beside Adriano, said, 'I tell thee there never was so sweet a creature as is Niccolosa. Cock's body, I have had with her the rarest sport ever man had with woman, more by token that I have gone upwards of six times into the country, since I left thee.' The host, hearing this talk and being not overwell pleased therewith, said first in himself, 'What a devil doth this fellow here?' Then, more angered than well-advised, 'Pinuccio,' quoth he, 'this hath been a great piece of villainy of thine, and I know not why thou shouldst have used me thus; but, by the body of God, I will pay thee for it!!' Pinuccio, who was not the wisest lad in the world, seeing his mistake, addressed not himself to mend it as best he might, but said, 'Of what wilt thou pay me? What canst thou do to me?' Therewithal the hostess, who thought herself with her husband, said to Adriano, 'Good lack, hark to our guests how they are at I know not what words together!' Quoth Adriano, laughing, 'Leave them do, God land them in an ill year! They drank overmuch yesternight.'

The good wife, herseeming she had heard her husband scold and hearing Adriano speak, incontinent perceived where and with whom she had been; whereupon, like a wise woman as she was, she arose forthright, without saying a word, and taking her little son's cradle, carried it at a guess, for that there was no jot of light to be seen in the chamber, to the side of the bed where her daughter slept and lay down with the latter; then, as if she had been aroused by her husband's clamour, she called him and enquired what was to do between himself and Pinuccio. He answered, 'Hearest thou not what he saith he hath done this night unto Niccolosa?' 'Marry,' quoth she, 'he lieth in his throat, for he was never abed with Niccolosa, seeing that I have lain here all night; more by token that I have not been able to sleep a wink; and thou art an ass to believe him. You men drink so much of an evening that you do nothing but dream all night and fare hither and thither, without knowing it, and fancy you do wonders. 'Tis a thousand pities you don't break your necks. But what doth Pinuccio yonder? Why bideth he not in his own bed?' Adriano, on his part, seeing how adroitly the good wife went about to cover her own shame and that of her daughter, chimed in with, 'Pinuccio, I have told thee an hundred times not to go abroad, for that this thy trick of arising in thy sleep and telling for true the extravagances thou dreamest will bring thee into trouble some day or other. Come back here, God give thee an ill night!'

The host, hearing what his wife and Adriano said, began to believe in good earnest that Pinuccio was dreaming; and accordingly, taking him by the shoulders, he fell to shaking and calling him, saying, 'Pinuccio, awake; return to thine own bed.' Pinuccio having apprehended all that had been said began to wander off into other extravagances, after the fashion of a man a-dream; whereat the host set up the heartiest laughter in the world. At last, he made believe to awake for stress of shaking, and calling to Adriano, said, 'Is it already day, that thou callest me?' 'Ay,' answered the other, 'come hither.' Accordingly, Pinuccio, dissembling and making a show of being sleepy-eyed, arose at last from beside the host and went back to bed with Adriano. The day come and they being risen, the host fell to laughing and mocking at Pinuccio and his dreams; and so they passed from one jest to another, till the young men, having saddled their rounceys and strapped on their valises and drunken with the host, remounted to horse and rode away to Florence, no less content with the manner in which the thing had betided than with the effect itself thereof. Thereafter Pinuccio found other means of foregathering with Niccolosa, who vowed to her mother that he had certainly dreamt the thing; wherefore the goodwife, remembering her of Adriano's embracements, inwardly avouched herself alone to have waked."

Footnotes

[434] Adagiarono, i.e. unsaddled and stabled and fed them.
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