The Sixth Story

Madam Isabella, Being In Company With Leonetto Her Lover, Is Visited By One Messer Lambertuccio, Of Whom She Is Beloved; Her Husband Returning, [Unexpected,] She Sendeth Lambertuccio Forth Of The House, Whinger In Hand, And The Husband After Escorteth Leonetto Home

The company were wonder-well pleased with Fiammetta's story, all affirming that the lady had done excellently well and as it behoved unto such a brute of a man, and after it was ended, the king bade Pampinea follow on, who proceeded to say, "There are many who, speaking ignorantly, avouch that love bereaveth folk of their senses and causeth whoso loveth to become witless. Meseemeth this is a foolish opinion, as hath indeed been well enough shown by the things already related, and I purpose yet again to demonstrate it.

In our city, which aboundeth in all good things, there was once a young lady both gently born and very fair, who was the wife of a very worthy and notable gentleman; and as it happeneth often that folk cannot for ever brook one same food, but desire bytimes to vary their diet, this lady, her husband not altogether satisfying her, became enamoured of a young man called Leonetto and very well bred and agreeable, for all he was of no great extraction. He on like wise fell in love with her, and as you know that seldom doth that which both parties desire abide without effect, it was no great while before accomplishment was given to their loves. Now it chanced that, she being a fair and engaging lady, a gentleman called Messer Lambertuccio became sore enamoured of her, whom, for that he seemed to her a disagreeable man and a tiresome, she could not for aught in the world bring herself to love. However, after soliciting her amain with messages and it availing him nought, he sent to her threatening her, for that he was a notable man, to dishonour her, an she did not his pleasure; wherefore she, fearful and knowing his character, submitted herself to do his will.

It chanced one day that the lady, whose name was Madam Isabella, being gone, as is our custom in summer-time, to abide at a very goodly estate she had in the country and her husband having ridden somewhither to pass some days abroad, she sent for Leonetto to come and be with her, whereat he was mightily rejoiced and betook himself thither incontinent. Meanwhile Messer Lambertuccio, hearing that her husband was gone abroad, took horse and repairing, all alone, to her house, knocked at the door. The lady's waiting-woman, seeing him, came straight to her mistress, who was closeted with Leonetto, and called to her, saying, 'Madam, Messer Lambertuccio is below, all alone.' The lady, hearing this, was the woefullest woman in the world, but, as she stood in great fear of Messer Lambertuccio, she besought Leonetto not to take it ill to hide himself awhile behind the curtains of her bed till such time as the other should be gone. Accordingly, Leonetto, who feared him no less than did the lady, hid himself there and she bade the maid go open to Messer Lambertuccio, which being done, he lighted down in the courtyard and making his palfrey fast to a staple there, went up into the house. The lady put on a cheerful countenance and coming to the head of the stair, received him with as good a grace as she might and asked him what brought him thither; whereupon he caught her in his arms and clipped her and kissed her, saying, 'My soul, I understood that your husband was abroad and am come accordingly to be with you awhile.' After these words, they entered a bedchamber, where they locked themselves in, and Messer Lambertuccio fell to taking delight of her.

As they were thus engaged, it befell, altogether out of the lady's expectation, that her husband returned, whom when the maid saw near the house, she ran in haste to the lady's chamber and said, 'Madam, here is my lord come back; methinketh he is already below in the courtyard.' When the lady heard this, bethinking her that she had two men in the house and knowing that there was no hiding Messer Lambertuccio, by reason of his palfrey which was in the courtyard, she gave herself up for lost. Nevertheless, taking a sudden resolution, she sprang hastily down from the bed and said to Messer Lambertuccio, 'Sir, an you wish me anywise well and would save me from death, do that which I shall bid you. Take your hanger naked in your hand and go down the stair with an angry air and all disordered and begone, saying, "I vow to God that I will take him elsewhere." And should my husband offer to detain you or question you of aught, do you say no otherwhat than that which I have told you, but take horse and look you abide not with him on any account.' The gentleman answered that he would well, and accordingly, drawing his hanger, he did as she had enjoined him, with a face all afire what with the swink he had furnished and with anger at the husband's return. The latter was by this dismounted in the courtyard and marvelled to see the palfrey there; then, offering to go up into the house, he saw Messer Lambertuccio come down and wondering both at his words and his air, said, 'What is this, sir?' Messer Lambertuccio putting his foot in the stirrup and mounting to horse, said nought but, 'Cock's body, I shall find him again otherwhere,' and made off.

The gentleman, going up, found his wife at the stairhead, all disordered and fearful, and said to her, 'What is all this? Whom goeth Messer Lambertuccio threatening thus in such a fury?' The lady, withdrawing towards the chamber where Leonetto was, so he might hear her, answered, 'Sir, never had I the like of this fright. There came fleeing hither but now a young man, whom I know not, followed by Messer Lambertuccio, hanger in hand, and finding by chance the door of this chamber open, said to me, all trembling, "For God's sake, madam, help me, that I be not slain in your arms." I rose to my feet and was about to question him who he was and what ailed him, when, behold, in rushed Messer Lambertuccio, saying, "Where art thou, traitor?" I set myself before the chamber-door and hindered him from entering; and he was in so far courteous that, after many words, seeing it pleased me not that he should enter there, he went his way down, as you have seen.' Quoth the husband, 'Wife, thou didst well, it were too great a reproach to us, had a man been slain in our house, and Messer Lambertuccio did exceeding unmannerly to follow a person who had taken refuge here.'

Then he asked where the young man was, and the lady answered, 'Indeed sir, I know not where he hath hidden himself.' Then said the husband 'Where art thou? Come forth in safety.' Whereupon Leonetto, who had heard everything, came forth all trembling for fear, (as indeed he had had a great fright,) of the place where he had hidden himself, and the gentleman said to him, 'What hast thou to do with Messer Lambertuccio?' 'Sir,' answered he, 'I have nothing in the world to do with him, wherefore methinketh assuredly he is either not in his right wits or he hath mistaken me for another; for that no sooner did he set eyes on me in the road not far from this house than he forthright clapped his hand to his hanger and said, "Traitor, thou art a dead man!" I stayed not to ask why, but took to my heels as best I might and made my way hither, where, thanks to God and to this gentlewoman, I have escaped.' Quoth the husband, 'Go to; have no fears; I will bring thee to thine own house safe and sound, and thou canst after seek out what thou hast to do with him.' Accordingly, when they had supped, he mounted him a-horseback and carrying him back to Florence, left him in his own house. As for Leonetto, that same evening, according as he had been lessoned of the lady, he privily bespoke Messer Lambertuccio and took such order with him, albeit there was much talk of the matter thereafterward, the husband never for all that became aware of the cheat that had been put on him by his wife."
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