The Eighth Story

Fresco Exhorteth His Niece Not To Mirror Herself In The Glass, If, As She Saith, It Irketh Her To See Disagreeable Folk

The story told by Filostrato at first touched the hearts of the listening ladies with some little shamefastness and they gave token thereof by a modest redness that appeared upon their faces; but, after looking one at another, they hearkened thereto, tittering the while and scarce able to abstain from laughing. As soon as he was come to the end thereof, the queen turned to Emilia and bade her follow on, whereupon, sighing no otherwise than as she had been aroused from a dream, she began, "Lovesome lasses, for that long thought hath held me far from here, I shall, to obey our queen content myself with [relating] a story belike much slighter than that which I might have bethought myself to tell, had my mind been present here, recounting to you the silly default of a damsel, corrected by an uncle of hers with a jocular retort, had she been woman enough to have apprehended it.

A certain Fresco da Celatico, then, had a niece familiarly called Ciesca,[308] who, having a comely face and person (though none of those angelical beauties that we have often seen aforetime), set so much store by herself and accounted herself so noble that she had gotten a habit of carping at both men and women and everything she saw, without anywise taking thought to herself, who was so much more fashous, froward and humoursome than any other of her sex that nothing could be done to her liking. Beside all this, she was so prideful that, had she been of the blood royal of France, it had been overweening; and when she went abroad, she gave herself so many airs that she did nought but make wry faces, as if there came to her a stench from whomsoever she saw or met. But, letting be many other vexatious and tiresome fashions of hers, it chanced one day that she came back to the house, where Fresco was, and seating herself near him, all full of airs and grimaces, did nothing but puff and blow; whereupon quoth he, 'What meaneth this, Ciesca, that, to-day being a holiday, thou comest home so early?' To which she answered, all like to die away with affectation, 'It is true I have come back soon, for that I believe there were never in this city so many disagreeable and tiresome people, both men and women, as there are to-day; there passeth none about the streets but is hateful to me as ill-chance, and I do not believe there is a woman in the world to whom it is more irksome to see disagreeable folk than it is to me; wherefore I have returned thus early, not to see them.' 'My lass,' rejoined Fresco, to whom his niece's airs and graces were mighty displeasing, 'if disagreeable folk be so distasteful to thee as thou sayest, never mirror thyself in the glass, so thou wouldst live merry.' But she, emptier than a reed, albeit herseemed she was a match for Solomon in wit, apprehended Fresco's true speech no better than a block; nay, she said that she chose to mirror herself in the glass like other women; and so she abode in her folly and therein abideth yet."


[308] An abbreviation of Francesca.
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