“Decameron Day the Fifty First” Lyrics by Giovanni Boccaccio

  • Album Release Year: 1886
  • Featuring:  John Payne

                                                The Seventh Story

Teodoro, Being Enamoured Of Violante, Daughter Of Messer Amerigo His Lord, Getteth Her With Child And Is Condemned To Be Hanged; But, Being Recognized And Delivered By His Father, As They Are Leading Him To The Gallows, Scourging Him The While, He Taketh Violante To Wife

The ladies, who abode all fearful in suspense to know if the lovers should be burnt, hearing of their escape, praised God and were glad; whereupon the queen, seeing that Pampinea had made an end of her story, imposed on Lauretta the charge of following on, who blithely proceeded to say: “Fairest ladies, in the days when good King William[282] ruled over Sicily, there was in that island a gentleman hight Messer Amerigo Abate of Trapani, who, among other worldly goods, was very well furnished with children; wherefore, having occasion for servants and there coming thither from the Levant certain galleys of Genoese corsairs, who had, in their cruises off the coast of Armenia, taken many boys, he bought some of these latter, deeming them Turks, and amongst them one, Teodoro by name, of nobler mien and better bearing than the rest, who seemed all mere shepherds. Teodoro, although entreated as a slave, was brought up in the house with Messer Amerigo’s children and conforming more to his own nature than to the accidents of fortune, approved himself so accomplished and well-bred and so commended himself to Messer Amerigo that he set him free and still believing him to be a Turk, caused baptize him and call him Pietro and made him chief over all his affairs, trusting greatly in him.

As Messer Amerigo’s children grew up, there grew up with them a daughter of his, called Violante, a fair and dainty damsel, who, her father tarrying overmuch to marry her, became by chance enamoured of Pietro and loving him and holding his manners and fashions in great esteem, was yet ashamed to discover this to him. But Love spared her that pains, for that Pietro, having once and again looked upon her by stealth, had become so passionately enamoured of her that he never knew ease save whenas he saw her; but he was sore afraid lest any should become aware thereof, himseeming that in this he did other than well. The young lady, who took pleasure in looking upon him, soon perceived this and to give him more assurance, showed herself exceeding well pleased therewith, as indeed she was. On this wise they abode a great while, daring not to say aught to one another, much as each desired it; but, whilst both, alike enamoured, languished enkindled in the flames of love, fortune, as if it had determined of will aforethought that this should be, furnished them with an occasion of doing away the timorousness that baulked them.

Messer Amerigo had, about a mile from Trapani, a very goodly place,[283] to which his lady was won’t ofttimes to resort by way of pastime with her daughter and other women and ladies. Thither accordingly they betook themselves one day of great heat, carrying Pietro with them, and there abiding, it befell, as whiles we see it happen in summer time, that the sky became of a sudden overcast with dark clouds, wherefore the lady set out with her company to return to Trapani, so they might not be there overtaken of the foul weather, and fared on as fast as they might. But Pietro and Violante, being young, outwent her mother and the rest by a great way, urged belike, no less by love than by fear of the weather, and they being already so far in advance that they were hardly to be seen, it chanced that, of a sudden, after many thunderclaps, a very heavy and thick shower of hail began to fall, wherefrom the lady and her company fled into the house of a husbandman.

Pietro and the young lady, having no readier shelter, took refuge in a little old hut, well nigh all in ruins, wherein none dwelt, and there huddled together under a small piece of roof, that yet remained whole. The scantness of the cover constrained them to press close one to other, and this touching was the means of somewhat emboldening their minds to discover the amorous desires that consumed them both; and Pietro first began to say, ‘Would God this hail might never give over, so but I might abide as I am!’ ‘Indeed,’ answered the girl, ‘that were dear to me also.’ From these words they came to taking each other by the hands and pressing them and from that to clipping and after to kissing, it hailing still the while; and in short, not to recount every particular, the weather mended not before they had known the utmost delights of love and had taken order to have their pleasure secretly one of the other. The storm ended, they fared on to the gate of the city, which was near at hand, and there awaiting the lady, returned home with her.

Thereafter, with very discreet and secret ordinance, they foregathered again and again in the same place, to the great contentment of them both, and the work went on so briskly that the young lady became with child, which was sore unwelcome both to the one and the other; wherefore she used many arts to rid herself, contrary to the course of nature, of her burden, but could nowise avail to accomplish it. Therewithal, Pietro, fearing for his life, bethought himself to flee and told her, to which she answered, ‘An thou depart, I will without fail kill myself.’ Whereupon quoth Pietro, who loved her exceedingly, ‘Lady mine, how wilt thou have me abide here? Thy pregnancy will discover our default and it will lightly be pardoned unto thee; but I, poor wretch, it will be must needs bear the penalty of thy sin and mine own.’ ‘Pietro,’ replied she, ‘my sin must indeed be discovered; but be assured that thine will never be known, an thou tell not thyself.’ Then said he, ‘Since thou promisest me this, I will remain; but look thou keep thy promise to me.’

After awhile, the young lady, who had as most she might, concealed her being with child, seeing that, for the waxing of her body, she might no longer dissemble it, one day discovered her case to her mother, beseeching her with many tears to save her; whereupon the lady, beyond measure woeful, gave her hard words galore and would know of her how the thing had come about. Violante, in order that no harm might come to Pietro, told her a story of her own devising, disguising the truth in other forms. The lady believed it and to conceal her daughter’s default, sent her away to a country house of theirs. There, the time of her delivery coming and the girl crying out, as women use to do, what while her mother never dreamed that Messer Amerigo, who was well nigh never won’t to do so, should come thither, it chanced that he passed, on his return from hawking, by the chamber where his daughter lay and marvelling at the outcry she made, suddenly entered the chamber and demanded what was to do. The lady, seeing her husband come unawares, started up all woebegone and told him that which had befallen the girl. But he, less easy of belief than his wife had been, declared that it could not be true that she knew not by whom she was with child and would altogether know who he was, adding that, by confessing it, she might regain his favour; else must she make ready to die without mercy.

The lady did her utmost to persuade her husband to abide content with that which she had said; but to no purpose. He flew out into a passion and running, with his naked sword in his hand, at his daughter, who, what while her mother held her father in parley, had given birth to a male child, said, ‘Either do thou discover by whom the child was begotten, or thou shalt die without delay.’ The girl, fearing death, broke her promise to Pietro and discovered all that had passed between him and her; which when the gentleman heard, he fell into a fury of anger and hardly withheld himself from slaying her.

However, after he had said to her that which his rage dictated to him, he took horse again and returning to Trapani, recounted the affront that Pietro had done him to a certain Messer Currado, who was captain there for the king. The latter caused forthright seize Pietro, who was off his guard, and put him to the torture, whereupon he confessed all and being a few days after sentenced by the captain to be flogged through the city and after strung up by the neck, Messer Amerigo (whose wrath had not been done away by the having brought Pietro to death,) in order that one and the same hour should rid the earth of the two lovers and their child, put poison in a hanap with wine and delivering it, together with a naked poniard, to a serving-man of his, said to him, ‘Carry these two things to Violante and bid her, on my part, forthright take which she will of these two deaths, poison or steel; else will I have her burned alive, even as she hath deserved, in the presence of as many townsfolk as be here. This done, thou shalt take the child, a few days agone born of her, and dash its head against the wall and after cast it to the dogs to eat.’ This barbarous sentence passed by the cruel father upon his daughter and his grandchild, the servant, who was more disposed to ill than to good, went off upon his errand.

Meanwhile, Pietro, as he was carried to the gallows by the officers, being scourged of them the while, passed, according as it pleased those who led the company, before a hostelry wherein were three noblemen of Armenia, who had been sent by the king of that country ambassadors to Rome, to treat with the Pope of certain matters of great moment, concerning a crusade that was about to be undertaken, and who had lighted down there to take some days’ rest and refreshment. They had been much honoured by the noblemen of Trapani and especially by Messer Amerigo, and hearing those pass who led Pietro, they came to a window to see. Now Pietro was all naked to the waist, with his hands bounden behind his back, and one of the three ambassadors, a man of great age and authority, named Fineo, espied on his breast a great vermeil spot, not painted, but naturally imprinted on his skin, after the fashion of what women here call roses. Seeing this, there suddenly recurred to his memory a son of his who had been carried off by corsairs fifteen years agone upon the coast of Lazistan and of whom he had never since been able to learn any news; and considering the age of the poor wretch who was scourged, he bethought himself that, if his son were alive, he must be of such an age as Pietro appeared to him. Wherefore he began to suspect by that token that it must be he and bethought himself that, were he indeed his son, he should still remember him of his name and that of his father and of the Armenian tongue. Accordingly, as he drew near, he called out, saying, ‘Ho, Teodoro!’ Pietro, hearing this, straightway lifted up his head and Fineo, speaking in Armenian, said to him, ‘What countryman art thou and whose son?’ The sergeants who had him in charge halted with him, of respect for the nobleman, so that Pietro answered, saying, ‘I was of Armenia and son to one Fineo and was brought hither, as a little child, by I know not what folk.’
Fineo, hearing this, knew him for certain to be the son whom he had lost, wherefore he came down, weeping, with his companions, and ran to embrace him among all the sergeants; then, casting over his shoulders a mantle of the richest silk, which he had on his own back, he besought the officer who was escorting him to execution to be pleased to wait there till such time as commandment should come to him to carry the prisoner back; to which he answered that he would well. Now Fineo had already learned the reason for which Pietro was being led to death, report having noised it abroad everywhere; wherefore he straightway betook himself, with his companions and their retinue, to Messer Currado and bespoke him thus: ‘Sir, he whom you have doomed to die, as a slave, is a free man and my son and is ready to take to wife her whom it is said he hath bereft of her maidenhead; wherefore may it please you to defer the execution till such time as it may be learned if she will have him to husband, so, in case she be willing, you may not be found to have done contrary to the law.’ Messer Currado, hearing that the condemned man was Fineo’s son, marvelled and confessing that which the latter said to be true, was somewhat ashamed of the unright of fortune and straightway caused carry Pietro home; then, sending for Messer Amerigo, he acquainted him with these things.

Messer Amerigo, who by this believed his daughter and grandson to be dead, was the woefullest man in the world for that which he had done, seeing that all might very well have been set right, so but Violante were yet alive. Nevertheless, he despatched a runner whereas his daughter was, to the intent that, in case his commandment had not been done, it should not be carried into effect. The messenger found the servant sent by Messer Amerigo rating the lady, before whom he had laid the poniard and the poison, for that she made not her election as speedily [as he desired], and would have constrained her to take the one or the other. But, hearing his lord’s commandment, he let her be and returning to Messer Amerigo, told him how the case stood, to the great satisfaction of the latter, who, betaking himself whereas Fineo was, excused himself, well nigh with tears, as best he knew, of that which had passed, craving pardon therefor and evouching that, an Teodoro would have his daughter to wife, he was exceeding well pleased to give her to him. Fineo gladly received his excuses and answered, ‘It is my intent that my son shall take your daughter to wife; and if he will not, let the sentence passed upon him take its course.’

Accordingly, being thus agreed, they both repaired whereas Teodoro abode yet all fearful of death, albeit he was rejoiced to have found his father again, and questioned him of his mind concerning this thing. When he heard that, an he would, he might have Violante to wife, such was his joy that himseemed he had won from hell to heaven at one bound, and he answered that this would be to him the utmost of favours, so but it pleased both of them. Thereupon they sent to know the mind of the young lady, who, whereas she abode in expectation of death, the woefullest woman alive, hearing that which had betided and was like to betide Teodoro, after much parley, began to lend some faith to their words and taking a little comfort, answered that, were she to ensue her own wishes in the matter, no greater happiness could betide her than to be the wife of Teodoro; algates, she would do that which her father should command her.

Accordingly, all parties being of accord, the two lovers were married with the utmost magnificence, to the exceeding satisfaction of all the townsfolk; and the young lady, heartening herself and letting rear her little son, became ere long fairer than ever. Then, being risen from childbed, she went out to meet Fineo, whose return was expected from Rome, and paid him reverence as to a father; whereupon he, exceeding well pleased to have so fair a daughter-in-law, caused celebrate their nuptials with the utmost pomp and rejoicing and receiving her as a daughter, ever after held her such. And after some days, taking ship with his son and her and his little grandson, he carried them with him into Lazistan, where the two lovers abode in peace and happiness, so long as life endured unto them.”


[282] William II. (a.d. 1166-1189), the last (legitimate) king of the Norman dynasty in Sicily, called the Good, to distinguish him from his father, William the Bad.

[283] Apparently a pleasure-garden, without a house attached in which they might have taken shelter from the rain.

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