Imatges de pÓgina
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quire of her, as cautiously as might be, if she knew who that man was, or whence he came, or what was his business, and also how she happened to know him : which she answered in every particular as fully as he himself could have done, having lived a long time with his father in Sicily, and afterwards at Perugia; telling her also the cause of his coming thither, and when he was to return. Thinking herself now sufficiently instructed, both concerning his kindred, and their names, she grounded her scheme upon it in the most artful manner possible; and going home she sent the old woman out upon business for the whole day to hinder her returning to him ; and in the meantime, toward the evening, she despatched a young woman, well trained for such ser. vices, to his lodgings, who found him, by chance, sitting alone at the door, and inquiring of him whether he knew such a person, he made answer, that he was the man: upon which she took him a little aside, and said, “Sir, a gentlewoman of this city would gladly speak with you, if you please.' On hearing this, he began to consider the matter ; and, as she seemed to be a creditable girl, he held it for granted that the lady must be in love with him ; thinking himself as handsome a man as any in Naples : he answered, therefore, that he was ready, and demanded where and when the lady would speak with him. The girl replied, • She expects you at her own house as soon as it is agreeable to you. Without saying a word then to the people of the inn, he bade her show him the way; and she brought him to her house, in a certain street famous for such sort of guests : but he, knowing nothing of the matter, nor at all suspecting, but that he was visiting a place of repute, and a lady that had taken a fancy to him, went into the house, and going up stairs (whilst the girl called aloud to her mistress, telling her that Andreuccio was there), found her at the top waiting for him. She was young and beautiful enough, and very well dressed. Seeing him appear, therefore, she ran down two or three steps with open arms to meet him; and taking him about the neck, she stood some time without speaking a word, as if prevented by her overgreat tenderness : at last, shedding abundance of tears, and kissing him over and over, she said (her words being interrupted as it were with transport) O my Andreuccio! you are heartily welcome. He (quite astonished at being caressed in such a manner) replied, Madam, I am proud of the honour to wait upon you.' She then took him by the hand, and led him, without saying

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a word more, through a large dining-room into her own chamber, which was perfumed with roses, orange-flowers, and other costly odours, where was also a fine bed, and other rich furniture, far beyond what he had ever seen before, which convinced him that she was some great lady: and sitting down together upon a couch at the bed's feet she addressed herself to him in this manner · Andreuccio, I am very sure you must be under great astonishment both at my tears and embraces, as being unacquainted with me, and perhaps never having heard of me before: but you will now bear what will surprise you more, namely, that I am your sister : and I assure you, that since God has indulged me with the sight of one of my brethren, as I wished to have seen them all, I could die contented this very moment: if you be unacquainted with the particulars of my story, I will relate them. * Pietro, my father and yours, as I suppose you must know, lived a long time, at Palermo, where he was much respected for his behaviour and good nature (and may be so still) by all that knew him. Amongst others that liked him on that account was my mother, a widow lady ; who, notwithstanding the regard due to her father and brothers, as well as to her own honour, cohabited with him, till at length I was born, and am now what you see. Having occasion afterwards to retire from Palermo, and to return to Perugia, he left me there an infant, with my mother, and from that time, as far as I can learn, took no more notice either of me or her ; which, were he not my father, I could blame him for ; considering what ingratitude he showed to my mother, to omit the love he owed to me his child, begotten of no vile prostitute, who, out of her abundant love, had put herself and all her wealth into his hands, without having any further knowledge of him. But to what purpose ? Ill actions, done so long since, are easier blamed than amended : yet so it was; he left me, as I said, at Palermo, an infant, where, when I grew up, my mother, who was rich, married me to one of the family of the Gergenti ; who, out of regard to me and her, came and lived at Palermo, where, falling into the faction of the Guelphs, and having begun to treat with our King Charles, he was discovered by Frederick, king of Arragon, before his scheme could take effect, and forced to fly from Sicily, at a time when I expected to have been the greatest lady in the island. Taking away what few effects we were able (I call them few, with regard to the abundance we were possessed of), and leaving our estates and palaces

behind us, we came at length to this place, where we found King Charles so grateful, that he has made up to us, in part, the losses we had sustained on his account, giving us lands and houses, and paying my husband, and your kinsman, a pension besides, as you will hereafter see: thus live I here, where, thanks be to Heaven, and not to you, my dearest brother, I now see you.' Which, when she had said, she wept and embraced him again.

Andreuccio hearing this fable so orderly, so artfully composed, and related without the least faltering or hesitation; remembering, also, that his father had lived at Palermo, and knowing, by his own experience, how prone young fellows are to love ; beholding too her tears and affectionate caresses, he took all she had said for granted ; and when she had done speaking, he made answer and said, • Madam, it should not seem strange to you that I am surprised: for, in truth, (whether it was that my father, for reasons best known to himself, never mentioned you nor your mother at any time; or, if he did, that I have forgot it), I have no more knowledge of you, than if you had never been born. And it is the more pleasing to me to find a sister here, as I the less expected it, and am also alone: nor is there any man, of what quality soever, who would not value you ; much more, therefore, shall I, who am but a mean trader. But one thing I beg you would clear up to me, viz. How came you to know that I was here ?' When she replied in this

• A poor woman, whom I often employ, told me so; for she lived, as she

with our father a considerable time, both at Palermo and Perugia; and were it not that it appeared more reputable that you should come to me at my house, than I go to you at another person's, I had come directly to you. She then inquired of him particularly, and by name, how all their relations did ? To all which he answered her fully, believing more firmly, when there was the more reasons for suspicion. Their discourse lasting a long time, and the season being sultry, she ordered, in Greek, wine and sweetmeats for him; and he making an offer afterwards to depart, because it was suppertime, she would by no means suffer it; but seeming to be under great concern, she embraced him, and said, “Alas ! now I plainly see how little account you make of me; that, being with a sister whom you never saw before, and in her house, which you should always make your home, you should yet think of going to sup at an inn. Indeed

you
shall

sup

manner:

formed me,

with me; and though my husband be abroad, which I am much concerned at, I know, as a woman, how to pay you some little respect.' He, not knowing what answer to make, said, "I love you as much as it is possible for me to love a sister ; but it will be wrong not to go, because they will expect me to supper all the evening. She immediately replied, “We have a present remedy for that ; I will send one of my people to tell them not to expect you : but you would favour me more, and do as you ought, if you would send to invite your company hither to supper, and afterwards, if you chose to go, you might all of you depart together.?. He said he should not trouble her that evening with his companions, but she might dispose of him as she pleased. She now made a pretence of sending to his inn, to tell them : not to expect him to supper ; and, after much other discourse, they sat down, and were elegantly served with a variety of dishes, which she contrived to last till it was dark night, and rising then from table, fered to go away ; but she declared, that she would by no means suffer it, for Naples was not a place to walk in when it was dark, especially for a stranger ; and, as she had sent to the inn concerning his supping with her, so had she done the like about his bed. He believing this to be true, and glad also of being with her, was easily prevailed upon. After supper, their discourse lasted a long time, being lengthened out on purpose ; and, as it was now midnight, she left him in her own chamber to take his

repose, with a boy to wait upon him; and she, with her companions, retired into another room. It was sultry hot; on which account Andreuccio, seeing himself alone, stripped into his doublet, and pulling off his breeches, he laid them under his bolster, and having occasion to retire, he was shown by the boy to a corner of the room where there was a door, and desired to enter it. He went in without the least suspicion, and setting his foot upon a board, the rafter on which it was laid straight flew up, and down he went headlong.

Heaven was so merciful to him, however, he got no harm, though it was a great height from which he fell, but was grievously daubed with the filth, of which the place was full. Finding himself at the bottom, he called in great distress to the boy ; but he, the moment he heard him fall, ran to tell his mistress, who hastened to his chamber, to see if his clothes were there, and finding both them and the money, which he, out of a foolish mistrust, always carried about him (and for

but go

the sake of which she had laid this snare, pretending to have been of Palermo, and the sister of this Perugian), she took no farther care, but made the door fast, out of which he passed, when he fell. Finding the boy made no answer, be called out louder, but to no purpose ; and now perceiving the trick when it was too late, he climbed up the wall which parted that place from the street, and getting down from thence, he came again to the door, which he knew full well; there did he knock and call in vain for a long time ; lamenta ing much, and seeing plainly his calamity ; - Alas! (quoth he) in how little a time have I lost five hundred florins, and a sister besides !' And using many other words, he now began to batter the door, and to call out aloud ; and he con, tinued doing so, till he raised many of the neighbours, and, among the rest, one of the women where he had been, pretending to be half asleep, opened the casement, and called out, “Who makes that noise there ?'. - Oh ! cried he, don't you know me; I am Andreuccio, brother to Madam Fiordaliso ;' when she replied, Prithee, honest fellow, if thou hast had too much liquor, get thee to bed, and come to-morrow. I know nothing of Andreuccio, nor what thy idle tale means ; about thy business (I say once again) and let us rest.' What!' said he, don't you know what I say

? You know well enough, if you will: but if our Sicilian relationship be so soon forgotten, give me my clothes which I left with you, and I'll go with all my heart.' She then replied,

• The man is in a dream ;' and shut the win, dow at the same time.

Andreuccio, convinced of his loss, through his great grief became outrageous; and, resolving to recover by force, what he could not by fair words, took a great stone, and beat against the door harder than ever : which many of the neighbours hearing who had been awaked before, and supposing that he was some spiteful fellow, that he did this to annoy

and provoked at the noise which he made ; they called out, one and all (in like manner as dogs all join in barking at a stranger), . It is a shameful thing to come to a woman's house at this time of night, with thy idle stories: get thee away, in God's name, and let us sleep; and if thou hast any business with her, come to-morrow, and do not disturb us now. Encouraged, perhaps, by these last words, a bully in the house, whom he had neither seen nor heard of, came to the window, and with a most rough and terrible voice, called out, Who is that below?' An.

with a sneer,

the woman,

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