The ladies laughed immoderately at Martellino's misfortunes narrated by Neifile, as did also the young men and especially Filostrato, whom, for that he sat next Neifile, the queen bade follow her in story-telling. Accordingly he began without delay, "Fair ladies, needs must I tell you a story[79] of things Catholic,[80] in part mingled with misadventures and love-matters, which belike will not be other than profitable to hear, especially to those who are wayfarers in the perilous lands of love, wherein whoso hath not said St. Julian his Paternoster is oftentimes ill lodged, for all he have a good bed.

In the days, then, of the Marquis Azzo of Ferrara, there came a merchant called Rinaldo d'Asti to Bologna on his occasions, which having despatched and returning homeward, it chanced that, as he issued forth of Ferrara and rode towards Verona, he fell in with certain folk who seemed merchants, but were in truth highwaymen and men of lewd life and condition, with whom he unwarily joined company and entered into discourse. They, seeing him to be a merchant and judging him to have monies about him, took counsel together to rob him, at the first opportunity that should offer; wherefore, that he might take no suspicion, they went devising with him, like decent peaceable folk, of things honest and seemly and of loyalty, ordering themselves toward him, in so far as they knew and could, with respect and complaisance, so that he deemed himself in great luck to have met with them, for that he was alone with a serving-man of his on horseback.

Thus faring on and passing from one thing to another, as it chanceth in discourse, they presently fell to talking of the orisons that men offer up to God, and one of the highwaymen, who were three in number, said to Rinaldo, 'And you, fair sir, what orison do you use to say on a journey?' Whereto he answered, 'Sooth to say, I am but a plain man and little versed in these matters and have few orisons in hand; I live after the old fashion and let a couple of shillings pass for four-and-twenty pence.[81] Nevertheless, I have still been won't, when on a journey, to say of a morning, what time I come forth of the inn, a Pater and an Ave for the soul of St. Julian's father and mother, after which I pray God and the saint to grant me a good lodging for the ensuing night. Many a time in my day have I, in the course of my journeyings, been in great perils, from all of which I have escaped and have still found myself at night, to boot, in a place of safety and well lodged. Wherefore I firmly believe that St. Julian, in whose honour I say it, hath gotten me this favour of God; nor meseemeth should I fare well by day nor come to good harbourage at night, except I had said it in the morning.' 'And did you say it[82] this morning?' asked he who had put the question to him. 'Ay did I,' answered Rinaldo; whereupon quoth the other in himself, knowing well how the thing was to go, 'May it stand thee in stead![83] For, an no hindrance betide us, methinketh thou art e'en like to lodge ill.' Then, to Rinaldo, 'I likewise,' quoth he, 'have travelled much and have never said this orison, albeit I have heard it greatly commended, nor ever hath it befallen me to lodge other than well; and this evening maybe you shall chance to see which will lodge the better, you who have said it or I who have not. True, I use, instead thereof, the Dirupisti or the Intemerata or the De Profundis, the which, according to that which a grandmother of mine used to tell me, are of singular virtue.'

Discoursing thus of various matters and faring on their way, on the look out the while for time and place apt unto their knavish purpose, they came, late in the day, to a place a little beyond Castel Guglielmo, where, at the fording of a river, the three rogues, seeing the hour advanced and the spot solitary and close shut in, fell upon Rinaldo and robbed him of money, clothes and horse. Then, leaving him afoot and in his shirt, they departed, saying, 'Go see if thy St. Julian will give thee a good lodging this night, even as ours[84] will assuredly do for us.' And passing the stream, they went their ways. Rinaldo's servant, seeing him attacked, like a cowardly knave as he was, did nought to help him, but turning his horse's head, never drew bridle till he came to Castel Guglielmo and entering the town, took up his lodging there, without giving himself farther concern.

Rinaldo, left in his shirt and barefoot, it being very cold and snowing hard, knew not what to do and seeing the night already at hand, looked about him, trembling and chattering the while with his teeth, if there were any shelter to be seen therenigh, where he might pass the night, so he should not perish of cold; but, seeing none, for that a little before there had been war in those parts and everything had been burnt, set off at a run, spurred by the cold, towards Castel Guglielmo, knowing not withal if his servant were fled thither or otherwise and thinking that, so he might but avail to enter therein, God would send him some relief. But darkness overtook him near a mile from the town, wherefore he arrived there so late that, the gates being shut and the draw-bridges raised, he could get no admission. Thereupon, despairing and disconsolate, he looked about, weeping, for a place where he might shelter, so at the least it should not snow upon him, and chancing to espy a house that projected somewhat beyond the walls of the town, he determined to go bide thereunder till day. Accordingly, betaking himself thither, he found there a door, albeit it was shut, and gathering at foot thereof somewhat of straw that was therenigh, he laid himself down there, tristful and woebegone, complaining sore to St. Julian and saying that this was not of the faith he had in him.

However, the saint had not lost sight of him and was not long in providing him with a good lodging. There was in the town a widow lady, as fair of favour as any woman living, whom the Marquis Azzo loved as his life and there kept at his disposition, and she abode in that same house, beneath the projection whereof Rinaldo had taken shelter. Now, as chance would have it, the Marquis had come to the town that day, thinking to lie the night with her, and had privily let make ready in her house a bath and a sumptuous supper. Everything being ready and nought awaited by the lady but the coming of the Marquis, it chanced that there came a serving-man to the gate, who brought him news, which obliged him to take horse forthright; wherefore, sending to tell his mistress not to expect him, he departed in haste. The lady, somewhat disconsolate at this, knowing not what to do, determined to enter the bath prepared for the Marquis and after sup and go to bed.

Accordingly she entered the bath, which was near the door, against which the wretched merchant was crouched without the city-wall; wherefore she, being therein, heard the weeping and trembling kept up by Rinaldo, who seemed as he were grown a stork,[85] and calling her maid, said to her, 'Go up and look over the wall who is at the postern-foot and what he doth there.' The maid went thither and aided by the clearness of the air, saw Rinaldo in his shirt and barefoot, sitting there, as hath been said, and trembling sore; whereupon she asked him who he was. He told her, as briefliest he might, who he was and how and why he was there, trembling the while on such wise that he could scarce form the words, and after fell to beseeching her piteously not to leave him there all night to perish of cold, [but to succour him,] an it might be. The maid was moved to pity of him and returning to her mistress, told her all. The lady, on like wise taking compassion on him and remembering that she had the key of the door aforesaid, which served whiles for the privy entrances of the Marquis, said, 'Go softly and open to him; here is this supper and none to eat it and we have commodity enough for his lodging.'

The maid, having greatly commended her mistress for this her humanity, went and opening to Rinaldo, brought him in; whereupon the lady, seeing him well nigh palsied with cold, said to him, 'Quick, good man, enter this bath, which is yet warm.' Rinaldo, without awaiting farther invitation, gladly obeyed and was so recomforted with the warmth of the bath that himseemed he was come back from death to life. The lady let fetch him a suit of clothes that had pertained to her husband, then lately dead, which when he had donned, they seemed made to his measure, and whilst awaiting what she should command him, he fell to thanking God and St. Julian for that they had delivered him from the scurvy night he had in prospect and had, as he deemed, brought him to good harbourage.

Presently, the lady, being somewhat rested,[86] let make a great fire in her dining-hall and betaking herself thither, asked how it was with the poor man; whereto the maid answered, 'Madam, he hath clad himself and is a handsome man and appeareth a person of good condition and very well-mannered.' Quoth the lady, 'Go, call him and bid him come to the fire and sup, for I know he is fasting.' Accordingly, Rinaldo entered the hall and seeing the gentlewoman, who appeared to him a lady of quality, saluted her respectfully and rendered her the best thanks in his power for the kindness done him. The lady, having seen and heard him and finding him even as her maid had said, received him graciously and making him sit familiarly with her by the fire, questioned him of the chance that had brought him thither; whereupon he related everything to her in order. Now she had heard somewhat of this at the time of his servant's coming into the town, wherefore she gave entire belief to all he said and told him, in turn, what she knew of his servant and how he might lightly find him again on the morrow. Then, the table being laid, Rinaldo, at the lady's instance, washed his hands and sat down with her to supper. Now he was tall of his person and comely and pleasant of favour and very engaging and agreeable of manners and a man in the prime of life; wherefore the lady had several times cast her eyes on him and found him much to her liking, and her desires being already aroused for the Marquis, who was to have come to lie with her, she had taken a mind to him. Accordingly, after supper, whenas they were risen from table, she took counsel with her maid whether herseemed she would do well, the Marquis having left her in the lurch, to use the good which fortune had sent her. The maid, seeing her mistress's drift, encouraged her as best she might to ensue it; whereupon the lady, returning to the fireside, where she had left Rinaldo alone, fell to gazing amorously upon him and said to him, 'How now, Rinaldo, why bide you thus melancholy? Think you you cannot be requited the loss of a horse and of some small matter of clothes? Take comfort and be of good cheer; you are in your own house. Nay, I will e'en tell you more, that, seeing you with those clothes on your back, which were my late husband's, and meseeming you were himself, there hath taken me belike an hundred times to-night a longing to embrace you and kiss you: and but that I feared to displease you, I had certainly done it.'

Rinaldo, who was no simpleton, hearing these words and seeing the lady's eyes sparkle, advanced towards her with open arms, saying, 'Madam, considering that I owe it to you to say that I am now alive and having regard to that from which you delivered me, it were great unmannerliness in me, did I not study to do everything that may be agreeable to you; wherefore do you embrace me and kiss me to your heart's content, and I will kiss and clip you more than willingly.' There needed no more words. The lady, who was all afire with amorous longing, straightway threw herself into his arms and after she had strained him desirefully to her bosom and bussed him a thousand times and had of him been kissed as often, they went off to her chamber, and there without delay betaking themselves to bed, they fully and many a time, before the day should come, satisfied their desires one of the other. Whenas the day began to appear, they arose,—it being her pleasure, so the thing might not be suspected of any,—and she, having given him some sorry clothes and a purse full of money and shown him how he should go about to enter the town and find his servant, put him forth at the postern whereby he had entered, praying him keep the matter secret.

As soon as it was broad day and the gates were opened, he entered the town, feigning to come from afar, and found his servant. Therewithal he donned the clothes that were in the saddle-bags and was about to mount the man's horse and depart, when, as by a miracle, it befell that the three highwaymen, who had robbed him overnight, having been a little after taken for some other misdeed of them committed, were brought into the town and on their confession, his horse and clothes and money were restored to him, nor did he lose aught save a pair of garters, with which the robbers knew not what they had done. Rinaldo accordingly gave thanks to God and St. Julian and taking horse, returned home, safe and sound, leaving the three rogues to go kick on the morrow against the wind."[87]

Footnotes

[79] Lit. a story striveth in (draweth) me to be told or to tell itself (a raccontarsi mi tira una novella).

[80] i.e. religious matters (cose cattoliche).

[81] i.e. take things by the first intention, without seeking to refine upon them, or, in English popular phrase, "I do not pretend to see farther through a stone wall than my neighbours."

[82] i.e. the aforesaid orison.

[83] Or "'Twill have been opportunely done of thee."

[84] i.e. our patron saint.

[85] i.e. whose teeth chattered as it were the clapping of a stork's beak.

[86] i.e. after her bath.

[87] i.e. to be hanged or, in the equivalent English idiom, to dance upon nothing.
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Decameron (Day The Thirteenth) Lyrics

Giovanni Boccaccio – Decameron (Day The Thirteenth) Lyrics