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Gulfardo, hearing this and indignant at the sordidness of her whom he had accounted a lady of worth, was like to exchange his fervent love for hatred and thinking to cheat her, sent back to her, saying that he would very willingly do this and all else in his power that might please her and that therefore she should e'en send him word when she would have him go to her, for that he would carry her the money, nor should any ever hear aught of the matter, save a comrade of his in whom he trusted greatly and who still bore him company in whatsoever he did. The lady, or rather, I should say, the vile woman, hearing this, was well pleased and sent to him, saying that Guasparruolo her husband was to go to Genoa for his occasions a few days hence and that she would presently let him know of this and send for him. Meanwhile, Gulfardo, taking his opportunity, repaired to Guasparruolo and said to him, 'I have present occasion for two hundred gold florins, the which I would have thee lend me at that same usance whereat thou art wont to lend me other monies.' The other replied that he would well and straightway counted out to him the money.
A few days thereafterward Guasparruolo went to Genoa, even as the lady had said, whereupon she sent to Gulfardo to come to her and bring the two hundred gold florins. Accordingly, he took his comrade and repaired to the lady's house, where finding her expecting him, the first thing he did was to put into her hands the two hundred gold florins, in his friend's presence, saying to her, 'Madam, take these monies and give them to your husband, whenas he shall be returned.'
The lady took them, never guessing why he said thus, but supposing that he did it so his comrade should not perceive that he gave them to her by way of price, and answered, 'With all my heart; but I would fain see how many they are.' Accordingly, she turned them out upon the table and finding them full two hundred, laid them up, mighty content in herself; then, returning to Gulfardo and carrying him into her chamber, she satisfied him of her person not that night only, but many others before her husband returned from Genoa.
As soon as the latter came back, Gulfardo, having spied out a time when he was in company with his wife, betook himself to him, together with his comrade aforesaid, and said to him, in the lady's presence, 'Guasparruolo, I had no occasion for the monies, to wit, the two hundred gold florins, thou lentest me the other day, for that I could not compa.s.s the business for which I borrowed them. Accordingly, I brought them presently back to thy lady here and gave them to her; wherefore look thou cancel my account.' Guasparruolo, turning to his wife, asked her if she had the monies, and she, seeing the witness present, knew not how to deny, but said, 'Ay, I had them and had not yet remembered me to tell thee.' Whereupon quoth Guasparruolo, 'Gulfardo, I am satisfied; get you gone and G.o.d go with you: I will settle your account aright.' Gulfardo gone, the lady, finding herself cozened, gave her husband the dishonourable price of her baseness; and on this wise the crafty lover enjoyed his sordid mistress without cost."
THE SECOND STORY
[Day the Eighth]
THE PARISH PRIEST OF VARLUNGO LIETH WITH MISTRESS BELCOLORE AND LEAVETH HER A CLOAK OF HIS IN PLEDGE; THEN, BORROWING A MORTAR OF HER, HE SENDETH IT BACK TO HER, DEMANDING IN RETURN THE CLOAK LEFT BY WAY OF TOKEN, WHICH THE GOOD WOMAN GRUDGINGLY GIVETH HIM BACK
Men and ladies alike commended that which Gulfardo had done to the sordid Milanese lady, and the queen, turning to Pamfilo, smilingly charged him follow on; whereupon quoth he, "Fair ladies, it occurreth to me to tell you a little story against those who continually offend against us, without being open to retaliation on our part, to wit, the clergy, who have proclaimed a crusade against our wives and who, whenas they avail to get one of the latter under them, conceive themselves to have gained forgiveness of fault and pardon of penalty no otherwise than as they had brought the Soldan bound from Alexandria to Avignon. Whereof the wretched laymen cannot return them the like, albeit they wreak their ire upon the priests' mothers and sisters, doxies and daughters, a.s.sailing them with no less ardour than the former do their wives. Wherefore I purpose to recount to you a village love-affair, more laughable for its conclusion than long in words, wherefrom you may yet gather, by way of fruit, that priests are not always to be believed in everything.
[Footnote 365: Where the papal court then was. See p. 257, note.]
You must know, then, that there was once at Varlungo,--a village very near here, as each of you ladies either knoweth or may have heard,--a worthy priest and a l.u.s.ty of his person in the service of the ladies, who, albeit he knew not overwell how to read, natheless regaled his parishioners with store of good and pious saws at the elmfoot on Sundays and visited their women, whenas they went abroad anywhither, more diligently than any priest who had been there aforetime, carrying them fairings and holy water and a stray candle-end or so, whiles even to their houses. Now it chanced that, among other his she-parishioners who were most to his liking, one pleased him over all, by name Mistress Belcolore, the wife of a husbandman who styled himself Bentivegna del Mazzo, a jolly, buxom country wench, brown-favoured and tight-made, as apt at turning the mill as any woman alive.
Moreover, it was she who knew how to play the tabret and sing 'The water runneth to the ravine' and lead up the haye and the round, when need was, with a fine muckender in her hand and a quaint, better than any woman of her neighbourhood; by reason of which things my lord priest became so sore enamoured of her that he was like to lose his wits therefor and would prowl about all day long to get a sight of her. Whenas he espied her in church of a Sunday morning, he would say a Kyrie and a Sanctus, studying to show himself a past master in descant, that it seemed as it were an a.s.s a-braying; whereas, when he saw her not there, he pa.s.sed that part of the service over lightly enough. But yet he made shift to do on such wise that neither Bentivegna nor any of his neighbours suspected aught; and the better to gain Mistress Belcolore's goodwill, he made her presents from time to time, sending her whiles a clove of garlic, which he had the finest of all the countryside in a garden he tilled with his own hands, and otherwhiles a punnet of peascods or a bunch of chives or scallions, and whenas he saw his opportunity, he would ogle her askance and cast a friendly gibe at her; but she, putting on the prude, made a show of not observing it and pa.s.sed on with a demure air; wherefore my lord priest could not come by his will of her.
[Footnote 366: Or, as La Fontaine would say, "aussi bien faite pour armer un lit."]
It chanced one day that as he sauntered about the quarter on the stroke of noon, he encountered Bentivegna del Mazzo, driving an a.s.s laden with gear, and accosting him, asked whither he went. 'Faith, sir,' answered the husbandman, 'to tell you the truth, I am going to town about a business of mine and am carrying these things to Squire Bonaccorri da Ginestreto, so he may help me in I know not what whereof the police-court judge hath summoned me by his proctor for a peremptory attendance.' The priest was rejoiced to hear this and said, 'Thou dost well, my son; go now with my benison and return speedily; and shouldst thou chance to see Lapuccio or Naldino, forget not to bid them bring me those straps they wot of for my flails.'
Bentivegna answered that it should be done and went his way towards Florence, whereupon the priest bethought himself that now was his time to go try his luck with Belcolore. Accordingly, he let not the gra.s.s grow under his feet, but set off forthright and stayed not till he came to her house and entering in, said, 'G.o.d send us all well! Who is within there?' Belcolore, who was gone up into the hay-loft, hearing him, said, 'Marry, sir, you are welcome; but what do you gadding it abroad in this heat?' 'So G.o.d give me good luck,' answered he, 'I came to abide with thee awhile, for that I met thy man going to town.'
Belcolore came down and taking a seat, fell to picking over cabbage-seed which her husband had threshed out a while before; whereupon quoth the priest to her, 'Well, Belcolore, wilt thou still cause me die for thee on this wise?' She laughed and answered, 'What is it I do to you?' Quoth he, 'Thou dost nought to me, but thou sufferest me not do to thee that which I would fain do and which G.o.d commandeth.' 'Alack!' cried Belcolore, 'Go to, go to. Do priests do such things?' 'Ay do we,' replied he, 'as well as other men; and why not? And I tell thee more, we do far and away better work and knowest thou why? Because we grind with a full head of water. But in good sooth it shall be shrewdly to thy profit, an thou wilt but abide quiet and let me do.' 'And what might this "shrewdly to my profit" be?'
asked she. 'For all you priests are stingier than the devil.' Quoth he, 'I know not; ask thou. Wilt have a pair of shoes or a head-lace or a fine stammel waistband or what thou wilt?' 'Pshaw!' cried Belcolore.
'I have enough and to spare of such things; but an you wish me so well, why do you not render me a service, and I will do what you will?' Quoth the priest, 'Say what thou wilt have of me, and I will do it willingly.' Then said she, 'Needs must I go to Florence, come Sat.u.r.day, to carry back the wool I have spun and get my spinning-wheel mended; and an you will lend me five crowns, which I know you have by you, I can take my watchet gown out of p.a.w.n and my Sunday girdle
that I brought my husband, for you see I cannot go to church nor to any decent place, because I have them not; and after I will still do what you would have me.' 'So G.o.d give me a good year,' replied the priest, 'I have them not about me; but believe me, ere Sat.u.r.day come, I will contrive that thou shalt have them, and that very willingly.'
'Ay,' said Belcolore, 'you are all like this, great promisers, and after perform nothing to any. Think you to do with me as you did with Biliuzza, who went off with the ghittern-player? c.o.c.k's faith, then, you shall not, for that she is turned a common drab only for that. If you have them not about you, go for them.' 'Alack,' cried the priest, 'put me not upon going all the way home. Thou seest that I have the luck just now to find thee alone, but maybe, when I return, there will be some one or other here to hinder us; and I know not when I shall find so good an opportunity again.' Quoth she, 'It is well; an you choose to go, go; if not, go without.'
[Footnote 367: Or ap.r.o.n.]
[Footnote 368: _Se n'and col ceteratojo_; a proverbial expression of similar meaning to our "was whistled down the wind," _i.e._ was lightly dismissed without provision, like a cast-off hawk.]
The priest, seeing that she was not in the humour to do his pleasure without a _salvum me fac_, whereas he would fain have done it _sine custodia_, said, 'Harkye, thou believest not that I will bring thee the money; but, so thou mayst credit me, I will leave thee this my blue-cloth cloak.' Belcolore raised her eyes and said, 'Eh what! That cloak? What is it worth?' 'Worth?' answered the priest. 'I would have thee know that it is cloth of Douay, nay, Threeay, and there be some of our folk here who hold it for Fouray. It is scarce a fortnight since it cost me seven crowns of hard money to Lotto the broker, and according to what Buglietto telleth me (and thou knowest he is a judge of this kind of cloth), I had it good five shillings overcheap.'
'Indeed!' quoth Belcolore. 'So G.o.d be mine aid, I had never thought it. But give it me first of all.' My lord priest, who had his arbalest ready c.o.c.ked, pulled off the cloak and gave it her; and she, after she had laid it up, said, 'Come, sir, let us go into the barn, for no one ever cometh there.' And so they did. There the priest gave her the heartiest busses in the world and making her sib to G.o.d Almighty,
solaced himself with her a great while; after which he took leave of her and returned to the parsonage in his ca.s.sock, as it were he came from officiating at a wedding.
[Footnote 369: A play of words upon the Italian equivalent of the French word Douay (_Duagio, i.e. Twoay, Treagio, Quattragio_) invented by the roguish priest to impose upon the simple goodwife.]
[Footnote 370: Or in modern parlance, "making her a connection by marriage of etc.," Boccaccio feigning priests to be members of the Holy Family, by virtue of their office.]
There, bethinking himself that all the candle-ends he got by way of offertory in all the year were not worth the half of five crowns, himseemed he had done ill and repenting him of having left the cloak, he fell to considering how he might have it again without cost. Being shrewd enough in a small way, he soon hit upon a device and it succeeded to his wish; for that on the morrow, it being a holiday, he sent a neighbour's lad of his to Mistress Belcolore's house, with a message praying her be pleased to lend him her stone mortar, for that Binguccio dal Poggio and Nuto Buglietti were to dine with him that morning and he had a mind to make sauce. She sent it to him and towards dinner-time, the priest, having spied out when Bentivegna and his wife were at meat together, called his clerk and said to him, 'Carry this mortar back to Belcolore and say to her, 'His reverence biddeth you gramercy and prayeth you send him back the cloak that the boy left you by way of token.' The clerk accordingly repaired to her house and there, finding her at table with Bentivegna, set down the mortar and did the priest's errand. Belcolore, hearing require the cloak again, would have answered; but her husband said, with an angry air, 'Takest thou a pledge of his reverence? I vow to Christ, I have a mind to give thee a good clout over the head! Go, give it quickly back to him, pox take thee! And in future, let him ask what he will of ours, (ay, though he should seek our a.s.s,) look that it be not denied him.' Belcolore rose, grumbling, and pulling the cloak out of the chest, gave it to the clerk, saying, 'Tell her reverence from me, Belcolore saith, she voweth to G.o.d you shall never again pound sauce in her mortar; you have done her no such fine honour of this bout.'
The clerk made off with the cloak and did her message to the priest, who said, laughing, 'Tell her, when thou seest her, that, an she will not lend me her mortar, I will not lend her my pestle; and so we shall be quits.' Bentivegna concluded that his wife had said this, because he had chidden her, and took no heed thereof; but Belcolore bore the priest a grudge and held him at arm's length till vintage-time; when, he having threatened to cause her go into the mouth of Lucifer the great devil, for very fear she made her peace with him over must and roast chestnuts and they after made merry together time and again. In lieu of the five crowns, the priest let put new parchment to her tabret and string thereto a cast of hawk's bells, and with this she was fain to be content."
THE THIRD STORY
[Day the Eighth]
CALANDRINO, BRUNO AND BUFFALMACCO GO COASTING ALONG THE MUGNONE IN SEARCH OF THE HELIOTROPE AND CALANDRINO THINKETH TO HAVE FOUND IT. ACCORDINGLY HE RETURNETH HOME, LADEN WITH STONES, AND HIS WIFE CHIDETH HIM; WHEREUPON, FLYING OUT INTO A RAGE, HE BEATETH HER AND RECOUNTETH TO HIS COMPANIONS THAT WHICH THEY KNOW BETTER THAN HE
Pamfilo having made an end of his story, at which the ladies had laughed so much that they laugh yet, the queen bade Elisa follow on, who, still laughing, began, "I know not, charming ladies, if with a little story of mine, no less true than pleasant, I shall succeed in making you laugh as much as Pamfilo hath done with his; but I will do my endeavor thereof.
In our city, then, which hath ever abounded in various fashions and strange folk, there was once, no great while since, a painter called Calandrino, a simple-witted man and of strange usances. He companied most of his time with other two painters, called the one Bruno and the other Buffalmacco, both very merry men, but otherwise well-advised and shrewd, who consorted with Calandrino for that they ofttimes had great diversion of his fashions and his simplicity. There was then also in Florence a young man of a mighty pleasant humor and marvellously adroit in all he had a mind to do, astute and plausible, who was called Maso del Saggio, and who, hearing certain traits of Calandrino's simplicity, determined to amuse himself at his expense by putting off some cheat on him or causing him believe some strange thing. He chanced one day to come upon him in the church of San Giovanni and seeing him intent upon the carved work and paintings of the pyx, which is upon the altar of the said church and which had then not long been placed there, he judged the place and time opportune for carrying his intent into execution. Accordingly, acquainting a friend of his with that which he purposed to do, they both drew near unto the place where Calandrino sat alone and feigning not to see him, fell a-discoursing together of the virtues of divers stones, whereof Maso spoke as authoritatively as if he had been a great and famous lapidary.
Calandrino gave ear to their talk and presently, seeing that it was no secret, he rose to his feet and joined himself to them, to the no small satisfaction of Maso, who, pursuing his discourse, was asked by Calandrino where these wonder-working stones were to be found. Maso replied that the most of them were found in Berlinzone, a city of the Basques, in a country called BenG.o.di, where the vines are tied up with sausages and a goose is to be had for a farthing and a gosling into the bargain, and that there was a mountain all of grated Parmesan cheese, whereon abode folk who did nothing but make maccaroni and ravioli and cook them in capon-broth, after which they threw them down thence and whoso got most thereof had most; and that hard by ran a rivulet of vernage, the best ever was drunk, without a drop of water therein. 'Marry,' cried Calandrino, 'that were a fine country; but tell me, what is done with the capons that they boil for broth?' Quoth Maso, 'The Basques eat them all.' Then said Calandrino, 'Wast thou ever there?' 'Was I ever there, quotha!' replied Maso. 'If I have been there once I have been there a thousand times.' 'And how many miles is it distant hence?' asked Calandrino; and Maso, 'How many? a million or more; you might count them all night and not know.'
'Then,' said Calandrino, 'it must be farther off than the Abruzzi?'
'Ay, indeed,' answered Maso; 'it is a trifle farther.'
[Footnote 371: _i.e._ Good cheer.]
[Footnote 372: A play upon the double meaning of _a denajo_, which signifies also "for money."]
[Footnote 373: A kind of rissole made of eggs, sweet herbs and cheese.]
[Footnote 374: _Vernaccia_, a kind of rich white wine like Malmsey.]
Calandrino, like a simpleton as he was, hearing Maso tell all this with an a.s.sured air and without laughing, gave such credence thereto as can be given to whatsoever verity is most manifest and so, holding it for truth, said, 'That is overfar for my money; though, were it nearer, I tell thee aright I would go thither with thee once upon a time, if but to see the maccaroni come tumbling headlong down and take my fill thereof. But tell me, G.o.d keep thee merry, is there none of those wonder-working stones to be found in these parts?' 'Ay is there,' answered Maso; 'there be two kinds of stones of very great virtue found here; the first are the grits of Settignano and Montisci, by virtue whereof, when they are wrought into millstones, flour is made; wherefore it is said in those parts that grace cometh from G.o.d and millstones from Montisci; but there is such great plenty of these grits that they are as little prized with us as emeralds with the folk over yonder, where they have mountains of them bigger than Mount Morello, which shine in the middle of the night, I warrant thee. And thou must know that whoso should cause set fine and perfect millstones, before they are pierced, in rings and carry them to the Soldan might have for them what he would. The other is what we lapidaries call Heliotrope, a stone of exceeding great virtue, for that whoso hath it about him is not seen of any other person whereas he is not, what while he holdeth it.' Quoth Calandrino, 'These be indeed great virtues; but where is this second stone found?' To which Maso replied that it was commonly found in the Mugnone. 'What bigness is this stone,' asked Calandrino, 'and what is its colour?' Quoth Maso, 'It is of various sizes, some more and some less; but all are well nigh black of colour.'
Calandrino noted all this in himself and feigning to have otherwhat to do, took leave of Maso, inwardly determined to go seek the stone in question, but bethought himself not to do it without the knowledge of Bruno and Buffalmacco, whom he most particularly affected. Accordingly he addressed himself to seek for them, so they might, without delay and before any else, set about the search, and spent all the rest of the morning seeking them. At last, when it was past none, he remembered him that they were awork in the Ladies' Convent at Faenza and leaving all his other business, he betook himself thither well nigh at a run, notwithstanding the great heat. As soon as he saw them, he called them and bespoke them thus: 'Comrades, an you will hearken to me, we may become the richest men in all Florence, for that I have learned from a man worthy of belief that in the Mugnone is to be found a stone, which whoso carrieth about him is not seen of any; wherefore meseemeth we were best go thither in quest thereof without delay, ere any forestall us. We shall certainly find it, for that I know it well, and when we have gotten it, what have we to do but put it in our poke and getting us to the moneychangers' tables, which you know stand still laden with groats and florins, take as much as we will thereof?
None will see us, and so may we grow rich of a sudden, without having to smear walls all day long, snail-fashion.'
Bruno and Buffalmacco, hearing this, fell a-laughing in their sleeves and eyeing each other askance, made a show of exceeding wonderment and praised Calandrino's counsel, but Bruno asked how the stone in question was called. Calandrino, who was a clod-pated fellow, had already forgotten the name, wherefore quoth he, 'What have we to do with the name, since we know the virtue of the stone? Meseemeth we were best go about the quest without more ado.' 'Well, then,' said Bruno, 'how is it fashioned?' 'It is of all fashions,' replied Calandrino; 'but all are well nigh black; wherefore meseemeth that what we have to do is to gather up all the black stones we see, till we happen upon the right. So let us lose no time, but get us gone.'
Quoth Bruno, 'Wait awhile,' and turning to his comrade, said, 'Methinketh Calandrino saith well; but meseemeth this is no season for the search, for that the sun is high and shineth full upon the Mugnone, where it hath dried all the stones, so that certain of those that be there appear presently white, which of a morning, ere the sun have dried them, show black; more by token that, to-day being a working day, there be many folk, on one occasion or another abroad along the banks, who, seeing us, may guess what we are about and maybe do likewise, whereby the stone may come to their hands and we shall have lost the trot for the amble. Meseemeth (an you be of the same way of thinking) that this is a business to be undertaken of a morning, whenas the black may be the better known from the white, and of a holiday, when there will be none there to see us.'
Buffalmacco commended Bruno's counsel and Calandrino fell in therewith; wherefore they agreed to go seek for the stone all three on the following Sunday morning, and Calandrino besought them over all else not to say a word of the matter to any one alive, for that it had been imparted to him in confidence, and after told them that which he had heard tell of the land of BenG.o.di, affirming with an oath that it was as he said. As soon as he had taken his leave, the two others agreed with each other what they should do in the matter and Calandrino impatiently awaited the Sunday morning, which being come, he arose at break of day and called his friends, with whom he sallied forth of the city by the San Gallo gate and descending into the bed of the Mugnone, began to go searching down stream for the stone.
Calandrino, as the eagerest of the three, went on before, skipping nimbly hither and thither, and whenever he espied any black stone, he pounced upon it and picking it up, thrust it into his bosom. His comrades followed after him picking up now one stone and now another; but Calandrino had not gone far before he had his bosom full of stones; wherefore, gathering up the skirts of his grown, which was not cut Flanders fashion, he tucked them well into his surcingle all round and made an ample lap thereof. However, it was no great while ere he had filled it, and making a lap on like wise of his mantle, soon filled this also with stones. Presently, the two others seeing that he had gotten his load and that dinner-time drew nigh, quoth Bruno to Buffalmacco, in accordance with the plan concerted between them, 'Where is Calandrino?' Buffalmacco, who saw him hard by, turned about and looking now here and now there, answered, 'I know not; but he was before us but now.' 'But now, quotha!' cried Bruno. 'I warrant you he is presently at home at dinner and hath left us to play the fool here, seeking black stones down the Mugnone.' 'Egad,' rejoined Buffalmacco 'he hath done well to make mock of us and leave us here, since we were fools enough to credit him. Marry, who but we had been simple enough to believe that a stone of such virtue was to be found in the Mugnone?'
[Footnote 375: _i.e._ not strait-cut.]
Calandrino, hearing this, concluded that the heliotrope had fallen into his hands and that by virtue thereof they saw him not, albeit he was present with them, and rejoiced beyond measure at such a piece of good luck, answered them not a word, but determined to return; wherefore, turning back, he set off homeward. Buffalmacco, seeing this, said to Bruno, 'What shall we do? Why do we not get us gone?'
Whereto Bruno answered, 'Let us begone; but I vow to G.o.d that Calandrino shall never again serve me thus, and were I presently near him as I have been all the morning, I would give him such a clout on the shins with this stone that he should have cause to remember this trick for maybe a month to come.' To say this and to let fly at Calandrino's shins with the stone were one and the same thing; and the latter, feeling the pain, lifted up his leg and began to puff and blow, but yet held his peace and fared on. Presently Buffalmacco took one of the flints he had picked up and said to Bruno, 'Look at this fine flint; here should go for Calandrino's loins!' So saying, he let fly and dealt him a sore rap in the small of the back with the stone.
Brief, on this wise, now with one word and now with another, they went pelting him up the Mugnone till they came to the San Gallo gate, where they threw down the stones they had gathered and halted awhile at the custom house.
The officers, forewarned by them, feigned not to see Calandrino and let him pa.s.s, laughing heartily at the jest, whilst he, without stopping, made straight for his house, which was near the Canto alla Macina, and fortune so far favoured the cheat that none accosted him, as he came up the stream and after through the city, as, indeed, he met with few, for that well nigh every one was at dinner. Accordingly, he reached his house, thus laden, and as chance would have it, his wife, a fair and virtuous lady, by name Mistress Tessa, was at the stairhead. Seeing him come and somewhat provoked at his long tarriance, she began to rail at him, saying, 'Devil take the man! Wilt thou never think to come home betimes? All the folk have already dined whenas thou comest back to dinner.' Calandrino, hearing this and finding that he was seen, was overwhelmed with chagrin and vexation and cried out, 'Alack, wicked woman that thou art, wast thou there?
Thou hast undone me; but, by G.o.d His faith, I will pay thee therefor!'
Therewithal he ran up to a little saloon he had and there disburdened himself of the ma.s.s of stones he had brought home; then, running in a fury at his wife, he laid hold of her by the hair and throwing her down at his feet, cuffed and kicked her in every part as long as he could wag his arms and legs, without leaving a hair on her head or a bone in her body that was not beaten to a mash, nor did it avail her aught to cry him mercy with clasped hands.
Meanwhile Bruno and Buffalmacco, after laughing awhile with the keepers of the gate, proceeded with slow step to follow Calandrino afar off and presently coming to the door of his house, heard the cruel beating he was in act to give his wife; whereupon, making a show of having but then come back, they called Calandrino, who came to the window, all asweat and red with anger and vexation, and prayed them come up to him. Accordingly, they went up, making believe to be somewhat vexed, and seeing the room full of stones and the lady, all torn and dishevelled and black and blue in the face for bruises, weeping piteously in one corner of the room, whilst Calandrino sat in another, untrussed and panting like one forspent, eyed them awhile, then said, 'What is this, Calandrino? Art thou for building, that we see all these stones here? And Mistress Tessa, what aileth her? It seemeth thou hast beaten her. What is all this ado?' Calandrino, outwearied with the weight of the stones and the fury with which he had beaten his wife, no less than with chagrin for the luck which himseemed he had lost, could not muster breath to give them aught but broken words in reply; wherefore, as he delayed to answer, Buffalmacco went on, 'Harkye, Calandrino, whatever other cause for anger thou mightest have had, thou shouldst not have fooled us as thou hast done, in that, after thou hadst carried us off to seek with thee for the wonder-working stone, thou leftest us in the Mugnone, like a couple of gulls, and madest off home, without saying so much as G.o.d be with you or devil; the which we take exceeding ill; but a.s.suredly this shall be the last trick thou shalt ever play us.'