The Seventh Story

Lodovico Discovereth To Madam Beatrice The Love He Beareth Her, Whereupon She Sendeth Egano Her Husband Into The Garden, In Her Own Favour, And Lieth Meanwhile With Lodovico, Who, Presently Arising, Goeth And Cudgelleth Egano In The Garden

Madam Isabella's presence of mind, as related by Pampinea, was held admirable by all the company; but, whilst they yet marvelled thereat, Filomena, whom the king had appointed to follow on, said, "Lovesome ladies, and I mistake not, methinketh I can tell you no less goodly a story on the same subject, and that forthright.

You must know, then, that there was once in Paris a Florentine gentleman, who was for poverty turned merchant and had thriven so well in commerce that he was grown thereby very rich. He had by his lady one only son, whom he had named Lodovico, and for that he might concern himself with his father's nobility and not with trade, he had willed not to place him in any warehouse, but had sent him to be with other gentlemen in the service of the King of France, where he learned store of goodly manners and other fine things. During his sojourn there, it befell that certain gentlemen, who were returned from visiting the Holy Sepulchre, coming in upon a conversation between certain young men, of whom Lodovico was one, and hearing them discourse among themselves of the fair ladies of France and England and other parts of the world, one of them began to say that assuredly, in all the lands he had traversed and for all the ladies he had seen, he had never beheld the like for beauty of Madam Beatrice, the wife of Messer Egano de' Gulluzzi of Bologna; to which all his companions, who had with him seen her at Bologna, agreed.

Lodovico, who had never yet been enamoured of any woman, hearkening to this, was fired with such longing to see her that he could hold his thought to nothing else and being altogether resolved to journey to Bologna for that purpose and there, if she pleased him, to abide awhile, he feigned to his father that he had a mind to go visit the Holy Sepulchre, the which with great difficulty he obtained of him. Accordingly, taking the name of Anichino, he set out for Bologna, and on the day following [his arrival,] as fortune would have it, he saw the lady in question at an entertainment, where she seemed to him fairer far than he had imagined her; wherefore, falling most ardently enamoured of her, he resolved never to depart Bologna till he should have gained her love. Then, devising in himself what course he should take to this end, he bethought himself, leaving be all other means, that, an he might but avail to become one of her husband's servants, whereof he entertained many, he might peradventure compass that which he desired. Accordingly, having sold his horses and disposed as best might be of his servants, bidding them make a show of knowing him not, he entered into discourse with his host and told him that he would fain engage for a servant with some gentleman of condition, could such an one be found. Quoth the host, 'Thou art the right serving-man to please a gentleman of this city, by name Egano, who keepeth many and will have them all well looking, as thou art. I will bespeak him of the matter.' As he said, so he did, and ere he took leave of Egano, he had brought Anichino to an accord with him, to the exceeding satisfaction of the latter, who, abiding with Egano and having abundant opportunity of seeing his lady often, proceeded to serve him so well and so much to his liking that he set such store by him that he could do nothing without him and committed to him the governance, not of himself alone, but of all his affairs.

It chanced one day that, Egano being gone a-fowling and having left Anichino at home, Madam Beatrice (who was not yet become aware of his love for her, albeit, considering him and his fashions, she had ofttimes much commended him to herself and he pleased her,) fell to playing chess with him and he, desiring to please her, very adroitly contrived to let himself be beaten, whereat the lady was marvellously rejoiced. Presently, all her women having gone away from seeing them play and left them playing alone, Anichino heaved a great sigh, whereupon she looked at him and said, 'What aileth thee, Anichino? Doth it irk thee that I should beat thee?' 'Madam,' answered he, 'a far greater thing than that was the cause of my sighing.' Quoth the lady, 'Prithee, as thou wishest me well, tell it me.' When Anichino heard himself conjured, 'as thou wishest me well,' by her whom he loved over all else, he heaved a sigh yet heavier than the first; wherefore the lady besought him anew that it would please him tell her the cause of his sighing. 'Madam,' replied Anichino, 'I am sore fearful lest it displease you, if I tell it you, and moreover I misdoubt me you will tell it again to others.' Whereto rejoined she, 'Certes, it will not displease me, and thou mayst be assured that, whatsoever thou sayest to me I will never tell to any, save whenas it shall please thee.' Quoth he, 'Since you promise me this, I will e'en tell it you.' Then, with tears in his eyes, he told her who he was and what he had heard of her and when and how he was become enamoured of her and why he had taken service with her husband and after humbly besought her that it would please her have compassion on him and comply with him in that his secret and so fervent desire, and in case she willed not to do this, that she should suffer him to love her, leaving him be in that his then present guise.

O singular blandness of the Bolognese blood! How art thou still to be commended in such circumstance! Never wast thou desirous of tears or sighs; still wast thou compliant unto prayers and amenable unto amorous desires! Had I words worthy to commend thee, my voice should never weary of singing thy praises. The gentle lady, what while Anichino spoke, kept her eyes fixed on him and giving full credence to his words, received, by the prevalence of his prayers, the love of him with such might into her heart that she also fell a-sighing and presently answered, 'Sweet my Anichino, be of good courage; neither presents nor promises nor solicitations of nobleman or gentleman or other (for I have been and am yet courted of many) have ever availed to move my heart to love any one of them; but thou, in this small space of time that thy words have lasted, hast made me far more thine than mine own. Methinketh thou hast right well earned my love, wherefore I give it thee and promise thee that I will cause thee have enjoyment thereof ere this next night be altogether spent. And that this may have effect, look thou come to my chamber about midnight. I will leave the door open; thou knowest which side the bed I lie; do thou come thither and if I sleep, touch me so I may awake, and I will ease thee of this so long desire that thou hast had. And that thou mayst believe this that I say, I will e'en give thee a kiss by way of arles.' Accordingly, throwing her arms about his neck, she kissed him amorously and he on like wise kissed her. These things said, he left her and went to do certain occasions of his, awaiting with the greatest gladness in the world the coming of the night.

Presently, Egano returned from fowling and being weary, betook himself to bed, as soon as he had supper, and after him the lady, who left the chamber-door open, as she had promised. Thither, at the appointed hour, came Anichino and softly entering the chamber, shut the door again from within; then, going up to the bed on the side where the lady lay, he put his hand to her breast and found her awake. As soon as she felt him come, she took his hand in both her own and held it fast; then, turning herself about in the bed, she did on such wise that Egano, who was asleep, awoke; whereupon quoth she to him, 'I would not say aught to thee yestereve, for that meseemed thou was weary; but tell me, Egano, so God save thee, whom holdest thou thy best and trustiest servant and him who most loveth thee of those whom thou hast in the house?' 'Wife,' answered Egano, 'what is this whereof thou askest me? Knowest thou it not? I have not nor had aye any in whom I so trusted and whom I loved as I love and trust in Anichino. But why dost thou ask me thereof?'

Anichino, seeing Egano awake and hearing talk of himself, was sore afraid lest the lady had a mind to cozen him and offered again and again to draw his hand away, so he might begone; but she held it so fast that he could not win free. Then said she to Egano, 'I will tell thee. I also believed till to-day that he was even such as thou sayest and that he was more loyal to thee than any other, but he hath undeceived me; for that, what while thou wentest a-fowling to-day, he abode here, and whenas it seemed to him time, he was not ashamed to solicit me to yield myself to his pleasures, and I, so I might make thee touch and see this thing and that it might not behove me certify thee thereof with too many proofs, replied that I would well and that this very night, after midnight, I would go into our garden and there await him at the foot of the pine. Now for my part I mean not to go thither; but thou, an thou have a mind to know thy servant's fidelity, thou mayst lightly do it by donning a gown and a veil of mine and going down yonder to wait and see if he will come thither, as I am assured he will.' Egano hearing this, answered, 'Certes, needs must I go see,' and rising, donned one of the lady's gowns, as best he knew in the dark; then, covering his head with a veil, he betook himself to the garden and proceeded to await Anichino at the foot of the pine.

As for the lady, as soon as she knew him gone forth of the chamber, she arose and locked the door from within, whilst Anichino, (who had had the greatest fright he had ever known and had enforced himself as most he might to escape from the lady's hands, cursing her and her love and himself who had trusted in her an hundred thousand times,) seeing this that she had done in the end, was the joyfullest man that was aye. Then, she having returned to bed, he, at her bidding, put off his clothes and coming to bed to her, they took delight and pleasure together a pretty while; after which, herseeming he should not abide longer, she caused him arise and dress himself and said to him, 'Sweetheart, do thou take a stout cudgel and get thee to the garden and there, feigning to have solicited me to try me, rate Egano, as he were I, and ring me a good peal of bells on his back with the cudgel, for that thereof will ensue to us marvellous pleasance and delight.' Anichino accordingly repaired to the garden, with a sallow-stick in his hand, and Egano, seeing him draw near the pine, rose up and came to meet him, as he would receive him with the utmost joy; whereupon quoth Anichino, 'Ah, wicked woman, art thou then come hither, and thinkest thou I would do my lord such a wrong? A thousand times ill come to thee!' Then, raising the cudgel, he began to lay on to him.

Egano, hearing this and seeing the cudgel, took to his heels, without saying a word, whilst Anichino still followed after him, saying, 'Go to, God give thee an ill year, vile woman that thou art! I will certainly tell it to Egano to-morrow morning.' Egano made his way back to the chamber as quickliest he might, having gotten sundry good clouts, and being questioned of the lady if Anichino had come to the garden, 'Would God he had not!' answered he. 'For that, taking me for thee, he hath cudgelled me to a mummy and given me the soundest rating that was aye bestowed upon lewd woman. Certes, I marvelled sore at him that he should have said these words to thee, with intent to do aught that might be a shame to me; but, for that he saw thee so blithe and gamesome, he had a mind to try thee.' Then said the lady, 'Praised be God that he hath tried me with words and thee with deeds! Methinketh he may say that I suffered his words more patiently than thou his deeds. But, since he is so loyal to thee, it behoveth thee hold him dear and do him honour.' 'Certes,' answered Egano, 'thou sayst sooth'; and reasoning by this, he concluded that he had the truest wife and the trustiest servant that ever gentleman had; by reason whereof, albeit both he and the lady made merry more than once with Anichino over this adventure, the latter and his mistress had leisure enough of that which belike, but for this, they would not have had, to wit, to do that which afforded them pleasance and delight, that while it pleased Anichino abide with Egano in Bologna."
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Decameron (Day The Seventy Third) Lyrics

Giovanni Boccaccio – Decameron (Day The Seventy Third) Lyrics