The Eighth Story

Biondello Cheateth Ciacco Of A Dinner, Whereof The Other Craftily Avengeth Himself, Procuring Him To Be Shamefully Beaten

The merry company with one accord avouched that which Talano had seen in sleep to have been no dream, but a vision, so punctually, without there failing aught thereof, had it come to pass. But, all being silent the queen charged Lauretta follow on, who said, "Like as those, most discreet ladies, who have to-day foregone me in speech, have been well nigh all moved to discourse by something already said, even so the stern vengeance wreaked by the scholar, of whom Pampinea told us yesterday, moveth me to tell of a piece of revenge, which, without being so barbarous as the former, was nevertheless grievous unto him who brooked it.

I must tell you, then, that there was once in Florence a man whom all called Ciacco,[435] as great a glutton as ever lived. His means sufficing him not to support the expense that his gluttony required and he being, for the rest, a very well-mannered man and full of goodly and pleasant sayings, he addressed himself to be, not altogether a buffoon, but a spunger[436] and to company with those who were rich and delighted to eat of good things; and with these he went often to dine and sup, albeit he was not always bidden. There was likewise at Florence, in those days, a man called Biondello, a little dapper fellow of his person, very quaint of his dress and sprucer than a fly, with his coif on his head and his yellow periwig still drest to a nicety, without a hair awry, who plied the same trade as Ciacco. Going one morning in Lent whereas they sell the fish and cheapening two very fine lampreys for Messer Vieri de' Cerchj, he was seen by Ciacco, who accosted him and said, 'What meaneth this?' Whereto Biondello made answer, 'Yestereve there were sent unto Messer Corso Donati three lampreys, much finer than these, and a sturgeon; to which sufficing him not for a dinner he is minded to give certain gentlemen, he would have me buy these other two. Wilt thou not come thither, thou?' Quoth Ciacco, 'Thou knowest well that I shall be there.'

. Accordingly, whenas it seemed to him time, he betook himself to Messer Corso's house, where he found him with sundry neighbours of his, not yet gone to dinner, and being asked of him what he went doing, answered, 'Sir, I am come to dine with you and your company.' Quoth Messer Corso, 'Thou art welcome; and as it is time, let us to table.' Thereupon they seated themselves at table and had, to begin with, chickpease and pickled tunny, and after a dish of fried fish from the Arno, and no more, Ciacco, perceiving the cheat that Biondello had put upon him, was inwardly no little angered thereat and resolved to pay him for it; nor had many days passed ere he again encountered the other, who had by this time made many folk merry with the trick he had played him. Biondello, seeing him, saluted him and asked him, laughing, how he had found Messer Corso's lampreys; to which Ciacco answered, 'That shalt thou know much better than I, ere eight days be past.'

Then, without wasting time over the matter, he took leave of Biondello and agreeing for a price with a shrewd huckster, carried him near to the Cavicciuoli Gallery and showing him a gentleman there, called Messer Filippo Argenti, a big burly rawboned fellow and the most despiteful, choleric and humoursome man alive, gave him a great glass flagon and said to him, 'Go to yonder gentleman with this flask in hand and say to him, "Sir Biondello sendeth me to you and prayeth you be pleased to rubify him this flask with your good red wine, for that he would fain make merry somedele with his minions." But take good care he lay not his hands on thee; else will he give thee an ill morrow and thou wilt have marred my plans.' 'Have I aught else to say,' asked the huckster; and Ciacco answered, 'No; do but go and say this and after come back to me here with the flask and I will pay thee.' The huckster accordingly set off and did his errand to Messer Filippo, who, hearing the message and being lightly ruffled, concluded that Biondello, whom he knew, had a mind to make mock of him, and waxing all red in the face, said, 'What "rubify me" and what "minions" be these? God land thee and him an ill year!' Then, starting to his feet, he put out his hand to lay hold of the huckster; but the latter, who was on his guard, promptly took to his heels and returning by another way to Ciacco, who had seen all that had passed, told him what Messer Filippo had said to him. Ciacco, well pleased, paid him and rested not till he found Biondello, to whom quoth he, 'Hast thou been late at the Cavicciuoli Gallery?' 'Nay,' answered the other. 'Why dost thou ask me?' 'Because,' replied Ciacco, 'I must tell thee that Messer Filippo enquireth for thee; I know not what he would have.' 'Good,' rejoined Biondello; 'I am going that way and will speak with him.' Accordingly, he made off, and Ciacco followed him, to see how the thing should pass.

Meanwhile Messer Filippo, having failed to come at the huckster, abode sore disordered and was inwardly all a-fume with rage, being unable to make anything in the world of the huckster's words, if not that Biondello, at whosesoever instance, was minded to make mock of him. As he fretted himself thus, up came Biondello, whom no sooner did he espy than he made for him and dealt him a sore buffet in the face. 'Alack, sir,' cried Biondello, 'what is this?' Whereupon Messer Filippo, clutching him by the hair and tearing his coif, cast his bonnet to the ground and said, laying on to him amain the while, 'Knave that thou art, thou shalt soon see what it is! What is this thou sendest to say to me with thy "rubify me" and thy "minions"? Deemest thou me a child, to be flouted on this wise?' So saying, he battered his whole face with his fists, which were like very iron, nor left him a hair on his head unruffled; then, rolling him in the mire, he tore all the clothes off his back; and to this he applied himself with such a will that Biondello could not avail to say a word to him nor ask why he served him thus. He had heard him indeed speak of 'rubify me' and 'minions,' but knew not what this meant.

At last, Messer Filippo having beaten him soundly, the bystanders, whereof many had by this time gathered about them, dragged him, with the utmost difficulty, out of the other's clutches, all bruised and battered as he was, and told him why the gentleman had done this, blaming him for that which he had sent to say to him and telling him that he should by that time have known Messer Filippo better and that he was not a man to jest withal. Biondello, all in tears protested his innocence, declaring that he had never sent to Messer Filippo for wine, and as soon as he was somewhat recovered, he returned home, sick and sorry, divining that this must have been Ciacco's doing. When, after many days, the bruises being gone, he began to go abroad again, it chanced that Ciacco encountered him and asked him, laughing, 'Harkye, Biondello, how deemest thou of Messer Filippo's wine?' 'Even as thou of Messer Corso's lampreys,' replied the other; and Ciacco said, 'The thing resteth with thee henceforth. Whenever thou goest about to give me to eat as thou didst, I will give thee in return to drink after t'other day's fashion.' Biondello, knowing full well that it was easier to wish Ciacco ill than to put it in practise, besought God of his peace[437] and thenceforth was careful to affront him no more."

Footnotes

[435] i.e. hog.

[436] Lit. a backbiter (morditore)

[437] i.e. conjured him by God to make peace with him.
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