The Fourth Story

Cecco Fortarrigo Gameth Away At Buonconvento All His Good And The Monies Of Cecco Angiolieri [His Master;] Moreover, Running After The Latter, In His Shirt, And Avouching That He Hath Robbed Him, He Causeth Him Be Taken Of The Countryfolk; Then, Donning Angiolieri's Clothes And Mounting His Palfrey, He Maketh Off And Leaveth The Other In His Shirt

Calandrino's speech concerning his wife had been hearkened of all the company with the utmost laughter; then, Filostrato being silent, Neifile, as the queen willed it, began, "Noble ladies, were it not uneather for men to show forth unto others their wit and their worth than it is for them to exhibit their folly and their vice, many would weary themselves in vain to put a bridle on their tongues; and this hath right well been made manifest to you by the folly of Calandrino, who had no call, in seeking to be made whole of the ailment in which his simplicity caused him believe, to publish the privy diversions of his wife; and this hath brought to my mind somewhat of contrary purport to itself, to wit, a story of how one man's knavery got the better of another's wit, to the grievous hurt and confusion of the over-reached one, the which it pleaseth me to relate to you.

There were, then, in Siena, not many years ago, two (as far as age went) full-grown men, each of whom was called Cecco. One was the son of Messer Angiolieri and the other of Messer Fortarrigo, and albeit in most other things they sorted ill of fashions one with the other, they were natheless so far of accord in one particular, to wit, that they were both hated of their fathers, that they were by reason thereof grown friends and companied often together. After awhile, Angiolieri, who was both a handsome man and a well-mannered, himseeming he could ill live at Siena of the provision assigned him of his father and hearing that a certain cardinal, a great patron of his, was come into the Marches of Ancona as the Pope's Legate, determined to betake himself to him, thinking thus to better his condition. Accordingly, acquainting his father with his purpose, he took order with him to have at once that which he was to give him in six months, so he might clothe and horse himself and make an honourable figure. As he went seeking some one whom he might carry with him for his service, the thing came to Fortarrigo's knowledge, whereupon he presently repaired to Angiolieri and besought him, as best he knew, to carry him with him, offering himself to be to him lackey and serving-man and all, without any wage beyond his expenses paid. Angiolieri answered that he would nowise take him, not but he knew him to be right well sufficient unto every manner of service, but for that he was a gambler and bytimes a drunkard, to boot. But the other replied that he would without fail keep himself from both of these defaults and affirmed it unto him with oaths galore, adding so many prayers that Angiolieri was prevailed upon and said that he was content.

Accordingly, they both set out one morning and went to dine at Buonconvento, where, after dinner, the heat being great, Angiolieri let make ready a bed at the inn and undressing himself, with Fortarrigo's aid, went to sleep, charging the latter call him at the stroke of none. As soon as his master was asleep, Fortarrigo betook himself to the tavern and there, after drinking awhile, he fell to gaming with certain men, who in a trice won of him some money he had and after, the very clothes he had on his back; whereupon, desirous of retrieving himself, he repaired, in his shirt as he was, to Angiolieri's chamber and seeing him fast asleep, took from his purse what monies he had and returning to play, lost these as he had lost the others. Presently, Angiolieri awoke and arising, dressed himself and enquired for Fortarrigo. The latter was not to be found and Angiolieri, concluding him to be asleep, drunken, somewhere, as was bytimes his won't, determined to leave him be and get himself another servant at Corsignano. Accordingly, he caused put his saddle and his valise on a palfrey he had and thinking to pay the reckoning, so he might get him gone, found himself without a penny; whereupon great was the outcry and all the hostelry was in an uproar, Angiolieri declaring that he had been robbed there and threatening to have the host and all his household carried prisoners to Siena.

At this moment up came Fortarrigo in his shirt, thinking to take his master's clothes, as he had taken his money, and seeing the latter ready to mount, said, 'What is this, Angiolieri? Must we needs be gone already? Good lack, wait awhile; there will be one here forthwith who hath my doublet in pawn for eight-and-thirty shillings; and I am certain that he will render it up for five-and-thirty, money down.' As he spoke, there came one who certified Angiolieri that it was Fortarrigo who had robbed him of his monies, by showing him the sum of those which the latter had lost at play; wherefore he was sore incensed and loaded Fortarrigo with reproaches; and had he not feared others more than he feared God, he had done him a mischief; then, threatening to have him strung up by the neck or outlawed from Siena, he mounted to horse. Fortarrigo, as if he spoke not to him, but to another, said, 'Good lack, Angiolieri, let be for the nonce this talk that skilleth not a straw, and have regard unto this; by redeeming it[429] forthright, we may have it again for five-and-thirty shillings; whereas, if we tarry but till to-morrow, he will not take less than the eight-and-thirty he lent me thereon; and this favour he doth me for that I staked it after his counsel. Marry, why should we not better ourselves by these three shillings?'

Angiolieri, hearing him talk thus, lost all patience (more by token that he saw himself eyed askance by the bystanders, who manifestly believed, not that Fortarrigo had gamed away his monies, but that he had yet monies of Fortarrigo's in hand) and said to him, 'What have I to do with thy doublet? Mayst thou be strung up by the neck, since not only hast thou robbed me and gambled away my money, but hinderest me to boot in my journey, and now thou makest mock of me.' However, Fortarrigo still stood to it, as it were not spoken to him and said, 'Ecod, why wilt thou not better me these three shillings? Thinkest thou I shall not be able to oblige thee therewith another time? Prithee, do it, an thou have any regard for me. Why all this haste? We shall yet reach Torrenieri betimes this evening. Come, find the purse; thou knowest I might ransack all Siena and not find a doublet to suit me so well as this; and to think I should let yonder fellow have it for eight-and-thirty shillings! It is worth yet forty shillings or more, so that thou wouldst worsen me in two ways.'[430]

Angiolieri, beyond measure exasperated to see himself first robbed and now held in parley after this fashion, made him no further answer, but, turning his palfrey's head, took the road to Torrenieri, whilst Fortarrigo, bethinking himself of a subtle piece of knavery, proceeded to trot after him in his shirt good two miles, still requiring him of his doublet. Presently, Angiolieri pricking on amain, to rid his ears of the annoy, Fortarrigo espied some husbandmen in a field, adjoining the highway in advance of him, and cried out to them, saying, 'Stop him, stop him!' Accordingly, they ran up, some with spades and others with mattocks, and presenting themselves in the road before Angiolieri, concluding that he had robbed him who came crying after him in his shirt, stopped and took him. It availed him little to tell them who he was and how the case stood, and Fortarrigo, coming up, said with an angry air, 'I know not what hindereth me from slaying thee, disloyal thief that thou wast to make off with my gear!' Then, turning to the countrymen, 'See, gentlemen,' quoth he, 'in what a plight he left me at the inn, having first gamed away all his own! I may well say by God and by you have I gotten back this much, and thereof I shall still be beholden to you.'

Angiolieri told them his own story, but his words were not heeded; nay, Fortarrigo, with the aid of the countrymen, pulled him off his palfrey and stripping him, clad himself in his clothes; then, mounting to horse, he left him in his shirt and barefoot and returned to Siena, avouching everywhere that he had won the horse and clothes of Angiolieri, whilst the latter, who had thought to go, as a rich man, to the cardinal in the Marches, returned to Buonconvento, poor and in his shirt, nor dared for shamefastness go straight back to Siena, but, some clothes being lent him, he mounted the rouncey that Fortarrigo had ridden and betook himself to his kinsfolk at Corsignano, with whom he abode till such time as he was furnished anew by his father. On this wise Fortarrigo's knavery baffled Angiolieri's fair advisement,[431] albeit his villainy was not left by the latter unpunished in due time and place."

Footnotes

[429] i.e. the doublet.

[430] i.e. do me a double injury.
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Decameron (Day The Ninety Second) Lyrics

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