Page images

men of this city. The lawyer caused a proclamation to be made, that whoever had any law matters to determine, they should have recourse to him: so it was told to Giannetto, that a famous lawyer was come from Bologna, who could decide all cases in law. Giannetto proposed to the Jew to apply to this lawyer. With all my heart, says the Jew; but let who will come, I will stick to my bond. They came to this judge, and saluted him. Giannetto did not remember him for he had disguised his face with the juice of certain herbs. Giannetto, and the Jew, each told the merits of the cause to the judge; who, when he had taken the bond and read it, said to the Jew, I must have you take the hundred thousand ducats, and release this honest man, who will always have a grateful sense of the favour done to him. The Jew replied, I will do no such thing. The judge answered, it will be better for you. The Jew was positive to yield nothing. Upon this they go to the tribunal appointed for such judgments and our judge says to the Jew, Do you cut a pound of this man's flesh where you choose. The Jew order ed him to be stripped naked; and takes in his hand a razor, which had been made on purpose. Giannetto seeing this, turning to the judge, this, says he, is not the favour I asked of you. Be quiet, says he, the pound of flesh is not yet cut off. As soon as the Jew was going to begin, Take care what you do, says the judge, if you take more or less than a pound, I will order your head to be struck off: and beside, if you shed one drop of blood, you shall be put to death. Your paper makes no mention of the shedding of blood; but says expressly, that you may take a pound of flesh, neither more nor less. He immediately sent for the executioner to bring the block and axe; and now, says he, if I see one drop of blood, off goes your head. At length the Jew, after



[ocr errors]

much wrangling, told him, Give me the hundred thousand ducats, and I am content. No, says the judge, cut off your pound of flesh according to your bond: why did not you take the money when it was offered? The Jew came down to ninety, and then to eighty thousand: but the judge was still resolute. Giannetto told the judge to give what he required, that Ansaldo might have his liberty: but he replied, let me manage him. Then the Jew would have taken fifty thousand he said, I will not give you a penny. Give me, at least, says the Jew, my own ten thousand ducats, and a curse confound you all. The judge replies, I will give you nothing: if you will have the pound of flesh, take it; if not, I will order your bond to be protested and annulled. The Jew seeing he could gain nothing, tore in pieces the bond in a great rage. Ansaldo was released, and conducted home with great joy by Giannetto, who carried the hundred thousand ducats to the inn to the lawyer. The lawyer said, I do not want money; carry it back to your lady, that she may not say, that you have squandered it away idly, Says Giannetto, my lady is so kind, that I might spend four times as much without incurring her displeasure. How are you pleased with the lady says the lawyer. I love her better than any earthly thing, answers Giannetto $ nature seems to have done her utmost in forming her. If you will come and see her, you will be surprised at the honours she will shew you. I cannot go with you, says the lawyer; but since you speak so much good of her, I must de sire you to present my respects to her. I will not fail, Giannetto answered; and now, let me entreat you to acceptof some of the money. While he was speaking, the lawyer' observed a ring on his finger, and said, if you will give me. this ring, I shall seek no other reward. Willingly, sayst Giannetto,

[ocr errors]


Giannetto; but as it is a ring given me by my lady, to wear for her sake, I have some reluctance to part with it, and she, not seeing it on my finger, will believe, that I have given it to a woman. Says the lawyer, she esteems you sufficiently to credit what you tell her, and you may say you made a present of it to me; but I rather think you want to give it to some former mistress here in Venice. So great, says Giannetto, is the love and reverence I bear to her, that I would not change her for any woman in the world. After this he takes the ring from his finger, and presents it to him. I have still a favour to ask, says the lawyer. It shall be granted, says Giannetto. It is, replied he, that you do not stay any time here, but go as soon as possible to your lady. It appears to me a thousand years till I see her, answered Giannetto and immediately they take leave of each other. The lawyer embarked, and left Venice. Giannetto took leave of his Venetian friends, and carried Ansaldo with him, and some of his old acquaintance accompanied them, The lady arrived some days before; and having resumed her female habit, pretended to have spent the time at the baths; and now gave order to have the streets lined with tapestry: and when Giannetto and Ansaldo were landed, all the court went out to meet them. When they arrived at the palace, the lady ran to embrace Ansaldo, but feigned anger against Giannetto, though she loved him excessively: yet the feastings, tilts, and diversions, went on as usual, at which all the lords and ladies were present, Giannetto seeing that his wife did not receive him with her accustomed good countenance, called her, and would have saluted her. She told him, she wanted none of his caresses: I am sure, says she, you have been lavish of them to some of your former mistresses. Giannetto began to make excuses. She asked

him where was the ring she had given him? It is no more than what I expected, cries Giannetto, and I was in the right to say you would be angry with me; but, I swear, by all that is sacred, and by your dear self, that I gave the ring to the lawyer who gained our cause, And I can swear, says the lady, with as much solemnity, that you gave the ring to woman: therefore swear no more. Giannetto protested that what he had told her was true, and that he said all this to the lawyer, when he asked for the ring. The lady replied, you would have done much better to stay at Venice with your mistresses, for I fear they all wept when you came away. Giannetto's tears began to fall, and in great sorrow he assured her, that what she supposed could not be true. The lady seeing his tears, which were daggers in her bosom, ran to embrace him, and in a fit of laughter shewed the ring, and told him, that she was herself the lawyer, and how she obtained the ring. Giannetto was greatly astonished, finding it all true, and told the story to the nobles and to his compa nions; and this heightened greatly the love between him and his lady. He then called the damsel who had given him the good advice in the evening, not to drink the liquor, and gave her to Ansaldo for a wife: and they spent the rest of their lives in great felicity and contentment."



IERI DE FIGIOVANNI took a resolution of going for some time, to the court of Alfonso king of Spain. He was graciously received, and living there some time in great magnificence, and giving remarkable proofs of his courage, was greatly esteemed. Having frequent opportunities of examining minutely

minutely the behaviour of the king, he observed, that he gave, as he thought, with little discernment, castles, and baronies, to such who were unworthy of his favours; and to himself, who might pretend to be of some estimation, he gave nothing: he therefore thought the fittest thing to be done, was to demand leave of the king to return home.

His request was granted, and the king presented him with one of the most beautiful and excellent mules that had ever been mounted. One of the king's trusty servants was commanded to accompany Ruggieri, and riding along with him, to pick up, and recollect every word he said of the king, and then mention that it was the order of his sovereign, that he should go back to him. The man watching the opportunity, joined Ruggieri when he set out, said he was going towards Italy, and would be glad to ride in company with him. Ruggieri jogging on with his mule, and talking of one thing or other, it being near nine o'clock, told his companion, that they would do well to put up their mules a little, and as soon as they entered the stable, every beast, except his, began to stale. Riding on further, they came to a river, and watering the beasts, his mule staled in the river: you untoward beast, says he, you are like your master, who gave you to me. The servant remembered this expression, and many others as they rode on all day together; but he heard not a single word drop from him, but what was in praise of the king. The next morning Ruggieri was told the order of the king, and instantly turned back, When the king had heard what he had said of the mule, he commanded him into his presence, and with a smile asked him, for what reason he had compared the mule to him. Ruggieri answered, My reason plain, you give where you ought not to give, and where you ought to give, you give nothing; in


« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »