The Tenth Story

Two Siennese Love A Lady, Who Is Gossip To One Of Them; The Latter Dieth And Returning To His Companion, According To Promise Made Him, Relateth To Him How Folk Fare In The Other World

It now rested only with the king to tell and he accordingly, as soon as he saw the ladies quieted, who lamented the cutting down of the unoffending pear-tree, began, "It is a very manifest thing that every just king should be the first to observe the laws made by him, and an he do otherwise, he must be adjudged a slave deserving of punishment and not a king, into which offence and under which reproach I, who am your king, am in a manner constrained to fall. True it is that yesterday I laid down the law for to-day's discourses, purposing not this day to make use of my privilege, but, submitting myself to the same obligation as you, to discourse of that whereof you have all discoursed. However, not only hath that story been told which I had thought to tell, but so many other and far finer things have been said upon the matter that, for my part, ransack my memory as I will, I can call nothing to mind and must avouch myself unable to say aught anent such a subject that may compare with those stories which have already been told. Wherefore, it behoving me transgress against the law made by myself, I declare myself in advance ready, as one deserving of punishment, to submit to any forfeit which may be imposed on me, and so have recourse to my wonted privilege. Accordingly, dearest ladies, I say that Elisa's story of Fra Rinaldo and his gossip and eke the simplicity of the Siennese have such efficacy that they induce me, letting be the cheats put upon foolish husbands by their wily wives, to tell you a slight story of them,[357] which though it have in it no little of that which must not be believed, will natheless in part, at least, be pleasing to hear.

There were, then, in Siena two young men of the people, whereof one was called Tingoccio Mini and the other Meuccio di Tura; they abode at Porta Salaja and consorted well nigh never save one with the other. To all appearance they loved each exceedingly and resorting, as men do, to churches and preachings, they had many a time heard tell of the happiness and of the misery that are, according to their deserts, allotted in the next world to the souls of those who die; of which things desiring to have certain news and finding no way thereto, they promised one another that whichever of them died first should, an he might, return to him who abode on life and give him tidings of that which he would fain know; and this they confirmed with an oath. Having come to this accord and companying still together, as hath been said, it chanced that Tingoccio became godfather to a child which one Ambruogio Anselmini, abiding at Campo Reggi, had had of his wife, Mistress Mita by name, and from time to time visiting, together with Meuccio, his gossip who was a very fair and lovesome lady, he became, notwithstanding the gossipship, enamoured of her. Meuccio, on like wise, hearing her mightily commended of his friend and being himself much pleased with her, fell in love with her, and each hid his love from the other, but not for one same reason. Tingoccio was careful not to discover it to Meuccio, on account of the naughty deed which himseemed he did to love his gossip and which he had been ashamed that any should know. Meuccio, on the other hand, kept himself therefrom,[358] for that he had already perceived that the lady pleased Tingoccio; whereupon he said in himself, 'If I discover this to him, he will wax jealous of me and being able, as her gossip, to bespeak her at his every pleasure, he will, inasmuch as he may, bring me in ill savour with her, and so I shall never have of her aught that may please me.'

Things being at this pass, it befell that Tingoccio, having more leisure of discovering his every desire to the lady, contrived with acts and words so to do that he had his will of her, of which Meuccio soon became aware and albeit it sore misliked him, yet, hoping some time or other to compass his desire, he feigned ignorance thereof, so Tingoccio might not have cause or occasion to do him an ill turn or hinder him in any of his affairs. The two friends loving thus, the one more happily than the other, it befell that Tingoccio, finding the soil of his gossip's demesne soft and eath to till, so delved and laboured there that there overcame him thereof a malady, which after some days waxed so heavy upon him that, being unable to brook it, he departed this life. The third day after his death (for that belike he had not before been able) he came by night, according to the promise made, into Meuccio's chamber and called the latter, who slept fast. Meuccio awoke and said, 'Who art thou?' Whereto he answered, 'I am Tingoccio, who, according to the promise which I made thee, am come back to thee to give thee news of the other world.'

Meuccio was somewhat affrighted at seeing him; nevertheless, taking heart, 'Thou art welcome, brother mine,' quoth he, and presently asked him if he were lost. 'Things are lost that are not to be found,' replied Tingoccio; 'and how should I be here, if I were lost?' 'Alack,' cried Meuccio, 'I say not so; nay, I ask thee if thou art among the damned souls in the avenging fire of hell.' Whereto quoth Tingoccio, 'As for that, no; but I am, notwithstanding, in very grievous and anguishful torment for the sins committed by me.' Meuccio then particularly enquired of him what punishments were awarded in the other world for each of the sins that folk use to commit here below, and he told him them all. After this Meuccio asked if there were aught he might do for him in this world, whereto Tingoccio replied that there was, to wit, that he should let say for him masses and orisons and do alms in his name, for that these things were mightily profitable to those who abode yonder. Meuccio said that he would well and Tingoccio offering to take leave of him, he remembered himself of the latter's amour with his gossip and raising his head, said, 'Now that I bethink me, Tingoccio, what punishment is given thee over yonder anent thy gossip, with whom thou layest, whenas thou wast here below?' 'Brother mine,' answered Tingoccio, 'whenas I came yonder, there was one who it seemed knew all my sins by heart and bade me betake myself to a certain place, where I bemoaned my offences in exceeding sore punishment and where I found many companions condemned to the same penance as myself. Being among them and remembering me of that which I had done whilere with my gossip, I looked for a much sorer punishment on account thereof than that which had presently been given me and went all shivering for fear, albeit I was in a great fire and an exceeding hot; which one who was by my side perceiving, he said to me, "What aileth thee more than all the others who are here that thou shiverest, being in the fire?" "Marry," said I, "my friend, I am sore in fear of the sentence I expect for a grievous sin I wrought aforetime." The other asked me what sin this was, and I answered, "It was that I lay with a gossip of mine, and that with such a vengeance that it cost me my life"; whereupon quoth he, making merry over my fear, "Go to, fool; have no fear. Here is no manner of account taken of gossips." Which when I heard, I was altogether reassured.' This said and the day drawing near, 'Meuccio,' quoth he, 'abide with God, for I may no longer be with thee,' and was suddenly gone. Meuccio, hearing that no account was taken of gossips in the world to come, began to make mock of his own simplicity, for that whiles he had spared several of them; wherefore, laying by his ignorance, he became wiser in that respect for the future. Which things if Fra Rinaldo had known, he had not needed to go a-syllogizing,[359] whenas he converted his good gossip to his pleasure."

Zephyr was now arisen, for the sun that drew near unto the setting, when the king, having made an end of his story and there being none other left to tell, put off the crown from his own head and set it on that of Lauretta, saying, "Madam, with yourself[360] I crown you queen of our company; do you then, from this time forth, as sovereign lady, command that which you may deem shall be for the pleasure and solacement of all." This said, he reseated himself, whereupon Lauretta, become queen, let call the seneschal and bade him look that the tables be set in the pleasant valley somewhat earlier than of won't, so they might return to the palace at their leisure; after which she instructed him what he should do what while her sovranty lasted. Then, turning to the company, she said, "Dioneo willed yesterday that we should discourse to-day of the tricks that women play their husbands and but that I am loath to show myself of the tribe of snappish curs, which are fain incontinent to avenge themselves of any affront done them, I would say that to-morrow's discourse should be of the tricks that men play their wives. But, letting that be, I ordain that each bethink himself to tell OF THE TRICKS THAT ALL DAY LONG WOMEN PLAY MEN OR MEN WOMEN OR MEN ONE ANOTHER; and I doubt not but that in this[361] there will be no less of pleasant discourse than there hath been to-day." So saying, she rose to her feet and dismissed the company till supper-time.

Accordingly, they all, ladies and men alike, arose and some began to go barefoot through the clear water, whilst others went a-pleasuring upon the greensward among the straight and goodly trees. Dioneo and Fiammetta sang together a great while of Arcite and Palemon, and on this wise, taking various and divers delights, they passed the time with the utmost satisfaction until the hour of supper; which being come, they seated themselves at table beside the lakelet and there, to the song of a thousand birds, still refreshed by a gentle breeze, that came from the little hills around, and untroubled of any fly, they supped in peace and cheer. Then, the tables being removed and the sun being yet half-vespers[362] high, after they had gone awhile round about the pleasant valley, they wended their way again, even as it pleased their queen, with slow steps towards their wonted dwelling-place, and jesting and chattering a thousand things, as well of those whereof it had been that day discoursed as of others, they came near upon nightfall to the fair palace, where having with the coolest of wines and confections done away the fatigues of the little journey, they presently fell to dancing about the fair fountain, carolling[363] now to the sound of Tindaro's bagpipe and anon to that of other instruments. But, after awhile, the queen bade Filomena sing a song, whereupon she began thus:

Alack, my life forlorn!
Will't ever chance I may once more regain
Th' estate whence sorry fortune hath me torn?

Certes, I know not, such a wish of fire
I carry in my thought
To find me where, alas! I was whilere.
O dear my treasure, thou my sole desire,
That holdst my heart distraught.
Tell it me, thou; for whom I know nor dare
To ask it otherwhere.
Ah, dear my lord, oh, cause me hope again,
So I may comfort me my spright wayworn.

What was the charm I cannot rightly tell
That kindled in me such
A flame of love that rest nor day nor night
I find; for, by some strong unwonted spell,
Hearing and touch
And seeing each new fires in me did light,
Wherein I burn outright;
Nor other than thyself can soothe my pain
Nor call my senses back, by love o'erborne.

O tell me if and when, then, it shall be
That I shall find thee e'er
Whereas I kissed those eyes that did me slay.
O dear my good, my soul, ah, tell it me,
When thou wilt come back there,
And saying "Quickly," comfort my dismay
Somedele. Short be the stay
Until thou come, and long mayst thou remain!
I'm so love-struck, I reck not of men's scorn.

If once again I chance to hold thee aye,
I will not be so fond
As erst I was to suffer thee to fly;
Nay, fast I'll hold thee, hap of it what may,
And having thee in bond,
Of thy sweet mouth my lust I'll satisfy.
Now of nought else will I
Discourse. Quick, to thy bosom come me strain;
The sheer thought bids me sing like lark at morn.

This song caused all the company conclude that a new and pleasing love held Filomena in bonds, and as by the words it appeared that she had tasted more thereof than sight alone, she was envied of this by certain who were there and who held her therefor so much the happier. But, after her song was ended, the queen, remembering her that the ensuing day was Friday, thus graciously bespoke all, "You know, noble ladies and you also, young men, that to-morrow is the day consecrated to the passion of our Lord, the which, an you remember aright, what time Neifile was queen, we celebrated devoutly and therein gave pause to our delightsome discoursements, and on like wise we did with the following Saturday. Wherefore, being minded to follow the good example given us by Neifile, I hold it seemly that to-morrow and the next day we abstain, even as we did a week agone, from our pleasant story-telling, recalling to memory that which on those days befell whilere for the salvation of our souls." The queen's pious speech was pleasing unto all and a good part of the night being now past, they all, dismissed by her, betook them to repose.


[357] i.e. the Siennese.

[358] i.e. from discovering to his friend his liking for the lady.

[359] Or, in modern parlance, logic-chopping (sillogizzando).

[360] i.e. with that whereof you bear the name, i.e. laurel (laurea).

[361] Or "on this subject" (in questo).

[362] Quære, "half-complines," i.e. half-past seven p.m. "Half-vespers" would be half-past four, which seems too early.

[363] Carolando, i.e. dancing in a round and singing the while, the original meaning of our word "carol."

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Decameron (Day The Seventy Sixth) Lyrics

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