The Decameron

Author: Boccaccio Giovanni  | Date: 1350





A Cicilian Courtezane, named Madame Biancafiore, by her craftie wit and policie, deceived a young Merchant, called Salabetto, of all the money he had taken for his Wares at Palermo. Afterward, he making shew of comming hither againe, with farre richer Merchandises then hee brought before: made the meanes to borrow a great summe of Money of her, leaving her so base a pawne, as well requited her for her former cozenage.

Needlesse it were to question, whether the Novell related by the Queene, in divers passages thereof, mooved the Ladies to hearty laughter, and likewise to compassionate sighes and teares; as pittying Madame Helena in her hard misfortune, and yet applauding the Scholler for his just revenge. But the discourse being ended, Dioneus, who knew it was his Office to be the last speaker every day, after silence was commanded, he began in this manner.

Worthy Ladies, it is a matter very manifest, that deceits do appeare so much the more pleasing, when (by the selfesame meanes) the subtle deceyver is artificially deceived. In which respect, though you all have reported very singular deceits: yet I meane to tel you one, that may prove as pleasing to you, as any of your owne. And so much the rather, because the woman deceived, was a great and cunning Mistris in beguiling others; equalling (if not excelling) any of your former beguilers.

It hath bene observed heretofore, and (happily) at this very day it is as frequent, that in all Cities and Townes upon the Seacoasts, having Ports for the benefit and venting Merchandises; Merchants use to bring their wealthy laden Vessels thither. And when they unlade any Ship of great fraught, there are prepared Store-houses, which in many places are called Magazines or Doganaes, at the charge of the Communalty, or Lord of the Towne or City, for the use whereof, they receive yearly gain and benefit. Into those warehouses, they deliver (under writing, and to the owners of them in especiall charge) all their goods and merchandises, of what price or valew soever they are.

Such as be the Owners of these Magazines, when the Wares are thus stored uppe in them, doe safely locke them up there with their keyes, having first registred downe truly all the goods, in the Register belonging to the Custome-house, that the Merchant may have a just account rendred him, and the rights payed to the Customehouse, according to the Register, and as they are either in part, or in all made sale of.

Brokers are continually there attending, being informed in the quality of the Merchandises stored, and likewise to what Merchants they appertaine: by meanes of these men, and according as the goods come to their hands, they devise to have them exchaunged, trucked, vented, and such other kinds of dispatches, answerable to the mens minds, and worth of the Commodities. As in many other Kingdomes and Countries, so was this custome observed at Palermo in Sicily, where likewise then were, and (no doubt) now adayes are, store of Women, faire and comely of person, but yet vowed enemies to honesty.

Neverthelesse, by such as know them not, they are held and reputed to be blamelesse Women, and by yeilding their bodyes unto generall use, are the occasion of infinite misfortunes to men. For so soone as they espy a Merchant-stranger there arrived, they win information from the Booke belonging to the Magazin, what wares are therein stored, of what valew they bee, and who is the Owner of them. Afterwards, by amorous actions, and affable speeches, they allure yong Merchants to take knowledge of them, to bee familiar in their company, till from some they get most part of their wealth, from others all. Nay, divers have gone so farre, as to make Port-sale of Ship, Goods, and Person, so cunningly they have bene shaven by these Barbers, and yet without any Razor.

It came to passe, and no long time since, that a young Florentine of ours, named Niccolo de Cignano, but more usually called Salabetto, imployed as Factor for his Maister, arrived at Palermo; his Ship stored with many Woollen Cloathes, a remainder of such as had bin sold at the Mart of Salerno; amounting in valew to above five hundred Florines of Gold. When he had given in his packet to the Custome-house, and made them up safe in his Warehouse; without making shew of desiring any speedy dispatch, he delighted to view all parts of the City, as mens minds are continuallie addicted to Novelties. He being a very faire and affable yong man, easie to kindle affection in a very modest eie: it fortuned, that a Courtezane, one of our before remembred shavers, who termed hir selfe Madame Biancafiore, having heard somewhat concerning his affairs, beganne to dart amorous glances at him. Which the indiscreete youth perceyving, and thinking her to be some great Lady: began also to grow halfe perswaded, that his comely person was pleasing to her and therefore he would carrie this good fortune of his somewhat cautelously.

Without imparting his mind unto any one, he would daily passe too and fro before her doore; which she observing, and having indifferently wounded him with her wanton piercing lookes: she began to use the first tricke of her Trade, by pretending her enflamed affection towards him, which made her pine and consume away in care, except he might be moved to pitty her. Whereupon, she sent one of her Pandoraes unto him, perfectly instructed in the Art of a Maquerella, who (after many cunning counterfetted sighes, and teares, which she had alwayes ready at command) told him that his comely person and compleate perfections, had so wounded the very soule of her Mistresse, as she could enjoy no rest in any place, either by day or night. In regard whereof, she desired (above all things else) to meete with him privately in a Bathe: with which Wordes, she straightway tooke a Ring forth of her pursse, and in most humble manner, delivered it unto him, as a token from her Mistresse.

Salabetto having heard this Message, was the onely joyfull man that could be: and having receyved the Ring, looking on it advisedly; first kissed it, and then put it upon his finger. Then in answer to the Messenger, he sayd: That if her Mistresse Biancafiore affected him, she sustained no losse thereby, in regard he loved her as fervently, and was ready to be commanded by her, at any time whensoever she pleased.

She having delivered this message to her Mistresse, was presently returned backe againe to him, to let him understand, in which of the Bathes she meant to meet him, on the next morrow in the evening. This being counsell for himselfe onely to keepe, he imparted it not to any friend whatsoever; but when the houre for their meeting was come, he went unto the place where he was appointed, a Bathe (belike) best agreeing with such businesse.

Not long had he taried there, but two Women slaves came laden to him, the one bearing a Mattresse of fine Fustian on hir head, and the other a great Basket filled with many things. Having spred the Mattresse in a faire Chamber on a Couch-bed, they covered it with delicate white Linnen sheets, all about embroidred with faire Fringes of gold, then laid they on costly quilts of rich Silkes, artificially wrought with gold and silver knots, having pearles and precious stones interwoven among them, and two such rich pillowes, as sildome before had the like bin seene. Salabetto putting off his garments, entred the Bath prepared for him, where the two Slaves washed his body very neatly. Soone after came Biancafiore hirselfe, attended on by two other women slaves, and seeing Salabetto in the Bathe; making him a lowly reverence, breathing forth infinite dissembled sighes, and teares trickling downe her cheekes, kissing and embracing him, thus she spake.

I know not what man else in the worlde, beside thy selfe, could have the power to bring me hither: the fire flew from thy faire eies (O thou incompareable lovely Tuscane) that melted my soule, and makes me onely live at thy command. Then hurling off her light wearing garment (because she came prepared for the purpose) shee stept into the bathe to him, and, not permitting the Slaves a-while to come neere, none but her selfe must now lave his body, with Muske compounded Sope and Gilly-floures. Afterward, the slaves washed both him and her, bringing two goodly sheetes, softe and white, yeelding such a delicate smell of Roses, even as if they had bene made of Rose-leaves. In the one, they folded Salabetto, and her in the other, and so conveyed them on their shoulders unto the prepared Bed-Couch, where because they should not sweate any longer, they tooke the sheets from about them, and laid them gently in the bed.

Then they opened the Basket, wherein were divers goodly Silver bottles, some filled with Rosewaters, others with flowers of Orenges, and Waters distilled of Gelsomine, Muske, and Amber-Greece, wherewith (againe) the slaves bathed their bodyes in the bed, and afterward presented them with variety of Comfites, as also very precious Wines, serving them in stead of a little Collation. Salabetto supposed himself to be in Paradise: for this appeared to be no earthly joy, bestowing a thousand gladsome gazes on her, who (questionlesse) was a most beautifull creature, and the tarrying of the Slaves, seemed millions of yeares to him, that hee might more freely embrace his Biancafiore. Leaving a Waxe Taper lighted in the Chamber, the slaves departed, and then shee sweetly embracing Salabetto, bestowed those further favours on him, which hee came for, and she was not squeamish in the affoording; wherof he was exceedingly joyfull, because he imagined, that they proceeded from the integrity of her affection towards him.

When she thought it convenient time to depart thence, the slaves returned; they cloathed themselves, and had a Banquet standing ready prepared for them; wherewith they cheared their wearyed spirits, after they had first washed in odorifferous waters. At parting: Salabetto (quoth she) whensoever thy leysures shal best serve thee, I will repute it as my cheefest happinesse, that thou wilt accept a Supper and Lodging in my house, which let it be this instant night, if thou canst. He being absolutely caught, both by hir beauty and flattering behaviour: beleeved faithfully, that he was as intirely beloved of her, as the heart is of the body: whereuppon hee thus answered. Madame, whatsoever pleaseth you, must needes be much more acceptable unto mee: and therefore, not onely may command my service this night, but likewise the whole employment of my life, to be onely yours in my very best studies and endeavours.

No sooner did she heare this answer, but she returned home to her owne house, which she decked in most sumptuous maner, and also made ready a costly Supper, expecting the arrivall of Salabetto: who when the darke night was indifferently well entred, went thither, and was welcommed with wonderfull kindnesse, wanting no costly Wines and Delicates all the Supper while. Being afterward conducted into a goodly Chamber, he smelt there admirable sweete senting savours, such as might well beseeme a Princes Pallace. He beheld a most costly Bed, and very rich furniture round about the roome: which when he had duly considered to himself, he was constantly perswaded, that she was a Lady of infinit wealth. And although he had heard divers flying reports concerning her life, yet hee would not credite any thing amisse of her, for albeit she might (perhappes) beguile some other; yet shee affected him (he thought) in better manner, and no such misfortune could happen to him.

Having spent all the night with her in wanton dalliances, and being risen in the morning; to enflame his affection more and more towards her, and to prevent any ill opinion he might conceyve of her, she bestowed a rich and costly Girdle on him, as also a pursse most curiously wrought, saying to him. My sweet Salabetto, with these testimonies of my true affection to thee, I give thee faithfully to understand, that as my person is onely subjected thine; so this house and all the riches in it, remaineth absolutely at thy disposition, or whatsoever hereafter shal happen within the compasse of my power.

He being not a little proud of this her bountifull offer (having never bestowed any gift on her, because by no meanes shee would admit it) after many sweet kisses and embraces; departed thence, to the place where the Merchants usually frequented: resorting to her (from time to time) as occasion served, and paying not one single peny for all his wanton pleasure, by which cunning baytes (at length) she caught him.

It came to passe, that having made sale of all his Clothes, whereby hee had great gaines, and the moneyes justly payed him at the times appointed: Biancafiore got intelligence thereof; yet not by him, but from one of the Brokers. Salabetto comming one night to sup with her, she embraced and kissed him as she was wont to doe, and seemed so wonderfully addicted in love to him, even as if shee would have dyed with delight in his armes. Instantly, shee would needs bestow two goodly gilt standing Cuppes on him, which Salabetto by no meanes would receive, because she had formerly bin very bountifull to him, to above the value of an hundred Crowns, and yet she would not take of him so much as a mite. At length, pressing still more tokens of her love and bounty on him, which he as courteously denied, as she kindly offered: one of her Women-slaves (as shee had before cunningly appointed) sodainely calling her, forthwith she departed out of her Chamber. And when she had continued a pretty while absent, she returned againe weeping, and throwing her selfe downe upon her Pallet, breathed forth such sighes and wofull lamentations, as no Woman could possibly doe the like.

Salabetto amazedly wondering thereat, tooke her in his Armes, and weeping also with her, said. Alas my deare Love, what sodain accident hath befalne you, to urge this lamentable alteration? If you love me, hide it not from me. After he had of entreated her in this manner, casting her armes about his necke, and sighing as if her heart would breake, thus she replyed. Ah Salabetto, the onely jewell of my joy on earth, I knowe not what to do, or say, for (even now) I received Letters from Messina, wherein my Brother writes to me, that although it cost the sale of all my goods, or whatsoever else I have beside, I must (within eight dayes space) not faile to send him a thousand Florins of gold, or else he must have his head smitten off, and I know not by what meanes to procure them so soone. For, if the limitation of fifteene dayes might serve the turne, I could borrow them in a place, where I can command a farre greater summe, or else I would sell some part of our Lands. But beeing no way able to furnish him so soone, I would I had died before I heard these dismall tydings. And in the uttering of these words, she graced them with such cunning dissembled sorrow, as if she had meant truly indeed. Salabetto, in whom the fury of his amorous flames, had consumed a great part of his necessary understanding, beleeving these counterfetted tears and complaints of hers, to proceed from an honest meaning soule; rashly and foolishly thus replied. Deare Biancafiore, I cannot furnish you with a thousand golden Florines, but am able to lend you five hundred if I were sure of their repayment at fifteene dayes, wherein you are highly beholding to Fortune, that I have made sale of all my Cloathes; which if they had lyen still on my hand, my power could not stretch to lend you five Florines. Alas deare heart (quoth she) would you be in such want of money, and hide it from her that loves you so loyally? Why did you not make your need knowne to me? Although I am not furnished of a thousand Florines; yet I have alwaies ready three or foure hundred by me, to do any kinde office for my friend. In thus wronging me, you have robd me of all boldnes, to presume upon your offer made me. Salabetto, far faster inveigled by these words then before, said. Let not my folly (bright Biancafiore) cause you to refuse my friendly offer, in such a case of extreme necessity: I have them ready pre. pared for you, and am heartily sory, that my power cannot furnish you with the whole summe.

Then catching him fast in her armes, thus she answered. Now I plainly perceive, my dearest Salabetto, that the love thou bearest me is true and perfect; when, without expectation of being requested, thou art readie to succour me in such an urgent neede, and with so faire a summe of Florines. Sufficiently was I thine owne before, but now am much more ingaged by so high deserving; with this particular acknowledgement for ever, that my Brothers head was redeemed by thy goodnesse onely. Heaven beareth me record, how unwilling I am to be beholding in this kind, considring that you are a Merchant, and Merchants furnish al their affairs with ready monis: but seeing necessity constraineth me, and I make no doubt of repaiment at the time appointed: I . p shall the more boldly accept your kindnes, with this absolute promise beside, that I wil rather sell all the houses I have, then breake my honest word with you.

Counterfeit teares still drayning downe her cheeks, and Salabetto kindly comforting her; he continued there with hir all that night, to expresse him selfe her most liberall servant. And, without expecting any more requesting, the next morning he brought her the five hundred Florines, which she received with a laughing heart, but outward dissembled weeping eies; Salabetto never demanding any other security, but onely her single promise.

Biancafiore, having thus received the five hundred Florines, the indiction of the Almanacke began to alter: and whereas (before) Salabetto could come see her whensoever he pleased, many occasions now happened, whereby he came seven times for once, and yet his entrance was scarsely admitted, neither was his entertainment so affable, or his cheare so bountifull, as in his former accesses thither. Moreover, when the time for repaiment was come, yea a moneth or two over-past, and he demanded to have his money; hee could have nothing but words for paiment. Now he began to consider on the craft and cunning of this wicked Woman, as also his owne shallow understanding, knowing he could make no proofe of his debt, but what her selfe listed to say, having neither witnes, specialty, bill or bond to shew: which made his folly so shamefull to him, that he durst not complaine to any person, because he had received some advertisements before, whereto he wold by no means listen, and now should have no other amends, but publike infamie, scorne and disgrace, which made him almost weary of his life, and much to bemoane his owne unhappinesse. He received also divers Letters from his Master, to make returne of the 500 Florines over by way of banke, according as he had used to do: but nowe could performe no such matter.

Hereupon, because his error should not be discovered, he departed in a small vessell thence, not making for Pisa, as he should have done, but directly for Naples hee shaped his course. At that instant lodged there, Don Pietro della Canigiano, Treasurer of the Empresse of Constantinople, a man of great wisedome and understanding, as also very ingenious and politike, he being an especiall Favourer of Salabetto and all his friendes, which made him presume the more boldly (being urged thereto by meere necessity, the best corrector of wandering wits) to acquaint him with his lamentable misfortune, in every particular as it had hapned, requesting his aid and advice, how he might best weare out the rest of his dayes, because hee never meant to visit Florence any more.

Canigiano being much displeased at the repetition of his Follie, sharply reproved him, saying. Thou hast done leudly, in carying thy selfe so loosely, and spending thy Masters goods so carelesly, which though I cannot truly tearme spent, but rather art meerely cousened and cheated of them, yet thou seest at what a deere rate thou hast purchased pleasure, which yet is not utterly helplesse, but may by one meanes or other be recovered. And being a man of woonderfull apprehension, advised him instantly what was to bee done, furnishing him also with a summe of money, wherewith to adventure a second losse, in hope of recovering the first againe: he caused divers Packes to be well bound up, with the Merchants markes orderly made on them, and bought about twenty Buttes or Barrelles, all filled (as it were) with Oyle, and these pretended commodities being shipt, Salabetto returned with them to Palermo. Where having given in his packets to the Customehouse, and entred them all under his owne name, as being both owner and factor: all his Wares were lockt up in his Magizine, with open publication, that he would not vent any of them, before other merchandises (which he daily expected) were there also arrived.

Biancafiore having heard thereof, and understanding withall, that he had brought Merchandises now with him, amounting to above two thousand Florins, staying also in expectation of other commodities, valewing better then three thousand more, she beganne to consider with her selfe, that she had not yet gotten money enough from him, and therefore would cast a figure for a farre bigger booty. Which that she might the more fairely effect, without so much as an imagination of the least mistrust: she would repay him backe his five hundred Florines, to winne from him a larger portion of two or three thousand at the least, and having thus setled her determination, she sent to have him come speake with her. Salabetto, having bene soundly bitten before, and therefore the better warranted from the like ranckling teeth, willingly went to her, not shewing any signe of former discontent: and she, seeming as if she knew nothing of the wealth he brought with him, gracing him in as loving manner as ever she had done, thus she spake.

I am sure Salabetto, you are angry with mee, because I restored not your Florines at my promised day. Salabetto smiling, presently answered. Beleeve me Lady (quoth he) it did a little distast me, even as I could have bin offended with him, that should plucke out my heart to bestow it on you, if it would yeelde you any contentment. But to let you know unfainedly, how much I am incensed with anger against you: such and so great is the affection I beare you, that I have solde the better part of my whole estate, converting the same into Wealthy Merchandises, which I have alreadie brought hither with mee, and valewing above two thousand Florines, all which are stored up in my Magazine. There must they remaine, till another Ship come forth of the Westerne parts, wherein I have a much greater adventure, amounting unto more then three thousand Florines. And my purpose is, to make my aboade heere in this City, which hath won the sole possession of my heart, onely in regard of my Biancafiore, to whom I am so intirely devoted, as both my selfe, and whatsoever else is mine (now or hereafter) is dedicated onely to her service; whereto thus she replyed.

Now trust me Salabetto, whatsoever redoundeth to thy good and benefite, is the cheefest comfort of my soule, in regard I prize thy love dearer then mine owne life, and am most joyfull of thy returne hither againe; but much more of thy still abiding heere, because I intend to live onely with thee, so soone as I have taken order for some businesse of import. In the meane while, let me entreate thee to hold me excused, because before thy departure hence, thou camest sometimes to see me, without thy entrance admitted; and other-whiles againe, found not such entertainement, as formerly had bene affoorded. But indeede, and above all the rest, in not re-paying thy money according to my promise. But consider good Salabetto, in what great trouble and affliction of minde I then was, both in regard of my Brothers danger, and other important occurrences beside, which mollestations do much distract the senses, and hinder kinde courtesies, which otherwise would bee extended liberally.

Last of all consider also, how difficult a thing it is for a woman, so sodainly to raise the summe of a thousand golden Florines, when one friend promiseth, and performeth not; another protesteth, yet hath no such meaning; a third sweareth, and yet proveth a false Lyar: so that by being thus ungently used, a breach is made betweene the best frends living. From hence it proceeded, and no other defect else, that I made not due returne of your five hundred Florins. No sooner were you departed her but I had them readie, and as many more, and could I have knowne whither to send them, they had bene with you long time since, which because I could not (by any meanes) compasse, I kept them still for you in continuall readinesse, as hoping of your comming hither againe. So causing a purse to be brought, wherein the same Florines were, which hee had delivered her; she gave it into his hand, and prayed him to count them over, whether there were so many, or no.

Never was Salabettoes heart halfe so joyfull before; and having counted them, found them to be his owne five hundred Florines: then, putting them up into his pocket, he saide. Comfort of my life, Full well I know that whatsoever you have saide, is most certaine; but let us talke no more of falshood in friendship, or casuall accidents happening unexpected: you have dealt with mee like a most loyall Mistresse, and heere I protest unfainedly to you, that as well in respect of this kinde courtesie, as also the constancy of mine affection to you, you cannot request hereafter a far greater summe of me, to supply any necessarie occasion of yours; but (if my power can performe it) you shall assuredly finde it certaine: make proofe thereof whensoever you please, after my other goods are Landed, and I have established my estate here in your City.

Having in this manner renewed his wonted amity with her, and with words farre enough off from all further meaning: Salabetto began againe to frequent her company, she expressing all former familiarity, shewing her selfe as lavishly bountifull to him, in all respects as before she had done, nay, many times in more magnificent manner.

But he intending to punish her notorious trechery towards him, when she left him as an open scorne to the World, wounded with disgrace, and quite out of credit with all his friends: she having (on a day) solemnly invited him, to suppe and lodge in her house all night; he went, both with sad and melancholly lookes, seeming as overcome with extreamity of sorrow. Biancafiore mervayling at this strange alteration in him, sweetly kissing and embracing him: would needs know the reason of his passionate affliction, and he permitting her to urge the question oftentimes together, without returning any direct answere; to quit her in her kind, and with coine of her owne stampe, after a few dissembled sighes, he began in this manner.

Ah my dearest Love, I am utterly undone, because the Shippe containing the rest of mine expected Merchandises, is taken by the Pyrates of Monago, and put to the ransome of tenne thousand Florines of Gold, and my part particularly, is to pay one thousand. At this instant I am utterly destitute of money, because the five hundred Florines which I received of you, I sent hence the next daie following to Naples, to buy more cloathes, which likewise are to be sent hither. And if I should now make sale of the Merchandizes in my Magazine (the time of generall utterance being not yet come) I shall not make a pennyworth for a penny. And my misfortune is the greater, because I am not so well knowne heere in your City, as to find some succour in such an important distresse; wherfore I know not what to do or say. Moreover, if the money be not speedily sent, our goods will be carried into Monago, and then they are past all redemption utterly.

Biancafiore appearing greatly discontented, as one verily perswaded, that this pretended losse was rather hers, then his, because she aymed at the mainest part of all his wealth: began to consider with her selfe, which was the likeliest course to bee taken, for saving the goods from carriage to Monago: wherupon thus she replied. Heaven knoweth (my dearest Salabetto) how thy love maketh me sorrowfull for this misfortune, and it greeveth me to see thee any way distressed: for if I had mony lying by mee (as many times I have) thou shouldst finde succour from my selfe onely, but indeede I am not able to helpe thee. True it is, there is a friend of mine, who did lend me five hundred Florines in my need, to make uppe the other summe which I borrowed of thee: but he demandeth extreme interest, because he will not abate any thing of thirty in the hundred, and if you should bee forced to use him, you must give him some good security. Now for my part, the most of my goods here I will pawne for thee: but what pledge can you deliver in to make up the rest? Wel did Salabetto conceive the occasion why she urged this motion, and was so diligent in doing him such a pleasure: for it appeared evidently to him, that her selfe was to lend the mony, wherof he was not a litle joyful, seeming very thankful to hir. Then he told her, that being driven to such extremity, how unreasonable soever the usury was, yet he would gladly pay for it. And for her Friends further security, hee would pawne him all the goods in his Magazine, entering them downe in the name of the party, who lent the money. Onely he desired to keepe the Keyes of the Ware-house, as well to shew his Merchandises, when any Merchant shot bee so desirous: as also to preserve them from ill using, transporting or changing, before his redemption of them.

She found no fault with his honest offer, but sayde, hee shewed himselfe a well-meaning man, and the next morning shee sent for a Broker, in whom she reposed especiall trust; and after they had privately consulted together, shee delivered him a thousand Golden Florines, which were caried by him presently to Salabetto, and the Bond made in the Brokers name, of all the goods remaining in Salabettoes ware-house, with composition and absolute agreement, for the prefixed time of the monies repaiment. No sooner was this tricke fully accomplished, but Salabetto seeming as if he went to redeeme his taken goods: set saile for Naples towards Pietro della Canigiano, with fifteene hundred Florines of Gold: from whence also he sent contentment to his Master at Florence (who imployd him as his Factor at Palermo) beside his owne packes of Cloathes. He made repayment likewise to Canigiano, for the monies which furnished him in this last voyage, and any other to whom hee was indebted. So there he stayed awhile with Canigiano, whose counsel thus holpe him to out-reach the Sicillian Courtezane: and meaning to deale in Merchandise no more, afterward he returned to Florence and there lived in good reputation.

Now as concerning Biancafiore, when she saw that Salabetto returned not againe to Palermo, she beganne to grow somewhat abashed, as halfe suspecting that which followed. After she had tarried for him above two moneths space, and perceived hee came not, nor any tydings heard of him: shee caused the Broker to breake open the Magazine, casting forth the Buttes or Barrels, which shee beleeved to bee full of good Oyles. But they were all filled with Seawater, each of them having a small quantity of Oyle floating on the toppe, onely to serve when a tryall should bee made. And then unbinding the Packes, made up in formall and Merchantable manner: there was nothing else in them, but Logges and stumpes of Trees, wrapt handsomely in hurdles of Hempe and Tow; onely two had Cloathes in them. So that (to bee briefe) the whole did not value two hundred Crownes: which when she saw, and observed how cunningly she was deceived: a long while after shee sorrowed, for repaying backe the five hundred Florines, and folly in lending a thousand more, using it as a Proverbe alwaies after to hit selfe: That whosoever dealt with a Tuscane, had neede to have sound sight and judgement. So remaining contented (whither she would or no) with her losse: she plainly perceyved, that although she lived by cheating others, yet now at the length she had mette with her match.

So soone as Dioneus had ended his Novell, Madame Lauretta also knew, that the conclusion of her Regiment was come; whereupon, when the counsell of Canigiano had past with generall commendation, and the wit of Salabetto no lesse applauded, for fitting it with such an effectuall prosecution; shee tooke the Crowne of Laurell from her owne head, and set it upon Madame Aimilliaes, speaking graciously in this manner. Madam, I am not able to say, how pleasant a Queene we shall have of you, but sure I am, that we shall enjoy a faire one: let matters therefore be so honourably ca.rried; that your government may be answerable to your beautifull perfections; which words were no sooner delivered, but she sate downe in her mounted seate.

Madame Aemillia being somewhat bashfull, not so much of hir being created Queene, as to heare her selfe thus publikely praysed, with that which Women do most of all desire: her face then appearing, like the opening of the Damaske Rose, in the goodlyest morning. But after she had a while dejected her lookes, and the Vermillion blush was vanished away: having taken order with the Master of the houshold, for all needefull occasions befitting the assembly, thus she began.

Gracious Ladies, wee behold it daily, that those Oxen which have laboured in the yoake most part of the day, for their more convenient feeding, are let forth at liberty, and permitted to wander abroad in the Woods. We see moreover, that Gardens and Orchards, being planted with variety of the fairest fruit Trees, are equalled in beauty by Woods and Forrests, in the plentifull enjoying of as goodly spreading branches. In consideration whereof, remembring how many dayes wee have already spent (under the severitie of Lawes imposed) shaping all our discourses to a forme of observation: I am of opinion, that it will not onely well become us, but also prove beneficiall for us, to live no longer under such restraint, and like enthralled people, desirous of liberty, wee should no more be subjected to the yoke, but recover our former strength in walking freely.

Wherefore, concerning our pastime purposed for to morrow, I am not minded to use any restriction, or tye you unto any particular ordination: but rather do liberally graunt, that every one shall devise and speake of arguments agreeing with your owne dispositions.

Besides, I am verily perswaded, that variety of matter uttered so freely, will be much more delightfull, then restraint to one kinde of purpose onely. Which being thus granted by me, whosoever shal succeede me in the government, may (as being of more power and preheminence) restraine all backe againe to the accustomed lawes. And having thus spoken, she dispensed with their any longer attendance, untill it should be Supper time.

Every one commended the Queenes appointment, allowing it to rellish of good wit and judgement: and being all risen, fell to such exercises as they pleased. The Ladies made Nosegaies and Chaplets of Flowers, the men played on their Instruments, singing divers sweete Ditties to them, and thus were busied untill Supper time. Which beeing come, and they supping about the beautifull Fountaine: after Supper, they fell to singing and dauncing. In the end, the Queene, to imitate the order of her predecessors, commanded Pamphilus, that notwithstanding all the excellent songs formerly sung: he should now sing one, whereunto dutifully obeying, thus he began.



Love, I found such felicitie,

And joy, in thy captivitie:

As I before did never prove,

And thought me happy, being in Love.

Comfort abounding in my hart,

Joy and Delight

In soule and spright

I did possesse in every part;

O Soveraigne Love by thee.

Thy Sacred fires,

Fed my desires,

And still aspires,

Thy happy thrall to bee.

Love, I found such felicity, etc.

My Song wants power to relate,

The sweets of minde

Which I did finde

In that most blissefull state,

O Soveraigne Love by thee.

No sad despaire,

Or killing care

Could me prepare;

Still thou didst comfort me.

Love, I found such felicity, etc.

I hate all such as do complaine,

Blaspheming thee

With Cruelty,

And sleights of coy disdaine.

O So raigne Love, to mee

Thou has bene kinde:

If others finde

Thee worse inclinde,

Yet I will honour thee.

Love, I found such felicitie,

And joy in thy Captivitie:

As I before did never prove,

But thought me happie, being in Love.

Thus the Song of Pamphilus ended, whereto all the rest (as a Chorus) answered with their Voyces, yet every one particularly (according as they felt their Love-sicke passions) made a curious construction thereof, perhaps more then they needed, yet not Divining what Pamphilus intended. And although they were transported with variety of imaginations; yet none of them could arive at his true meaning indeed. Wherefore the Queene, perceiving the Song to be fully ended, and the Ladies, as also the young Gentlemen, willing to go take their rest: she commaunded them severally to their Chambers.


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Chicago: Boccaccio Giovanni, "The Eight Day, the Tenth Novell," The Decameron Original Sources, accessed April 1, 2023,

MLA: Giovanni, Boccaccio. "The Eight Day, the Tenth Novell." The Decameron, Original Sources. 1 Apr. 2023.

Harvard: Giovanni, B, 'The Eight Day, the Tenth Novell' in The Decameron. Original Sources, retrieved 1 April 2023, from