« AnteriorContinuar »
for this is condemned. Giannetto went to bed, and began to fnore as if he slept soundly. The lady perceiving this, laid herself down by his fide. Giannetto loses no time, but turning to the lady, embraces her, saying, Now am I in poffeffion of my atmoft wishes. When Gianneito came out of his chamber, he was knighted, and placed in the chair of state, had the sceptre put into his hand, and was proclaimed sovereign of the country, with great pomp and splendour; and when the lords and ladies were come to The caitle, he married the lady in great ceremony.
Giannetto governed excellently, and caused justice to be adminiftered impartially. He continued fome time in this happy state, and never entertained a thought of poor Ansaldo, who had given his bond to the Jew for ten thousand ducats. But one day, as he stood at the window of the palace with his bride, he saw a number of people pass along the piazza, with lighted torches in their hands. What is the meaning of this ? says he. The lady answered, They are artificers, going to make their offerings at the church of St. John, this day being his festival. Giannetto infantly recollected Ansaldo, gave a great figh, and turned pale. His lady enquired the cause
of his sudden change. He said, he felt nothing. She continued to press with great earneftness, till he was obliged to confess the cause of his uneasiness, that Ansaldo was engaged for the money, that the term was expired ; and the grief he was in was left his father should lose his life for him: that if the ten thousand ducats were not paid that day, he must lose a pound of his felh. The lady told him to mount on horse. back, and go by land the nearest way, to take some attendants, and an hundred thousand ducats; and not to stop till he arrived at Venice ; and if he was not dead, to endeavour to bring Ansaldo to her. Giannetto takes horse with twenty attendants, and makes the best of his way to Venice.
The time being expired, the Jew had seized Ansaldo, and infiled on having a pound of his flesh. He entreated him only to wait fome days, tha: if his dear Giannetto arrived, he might have the pleafure of embracing him : the Jew replied he was willing to wait; but, says he, I will cut off the pound of flesh, according to the words of the obligation. Anfaldo answered, that he was content.
Several merchants would have jointly paid the money ; the Jew would not hearken to the proposal, but infifted that he might have the satisfaction of saying, that he had put to death the greatest of the Christian merchants. Giannetto making all possible hate to Venice, his lady foon followed him in a lawyer's habit, with two fervants attending her. Giannetto, when he came to Venice, goes to the Jew, and (after embracing Anfaldo) tells him, he is ready to pay
the money, and as much more as he should demand. The Jew said, he would take no money, since it was not paid at
the time due ; but that he would have the pound of flesh. Every one blamed the Jew; but as Venice was a place where justice was strictly administered, and the Jew had his pretensions grounded on publick and received forms, their only resource was entreaty ; and when the merchants of Venice applied to him, he was inflexible. Giannetto offered him twenty thousand, then thirty thoufand, afterwards forty, fifty, and at last an hundred thousand du. cắts. The Jew told him, if he would give him as much gold as Venice was worth, he would not accept it; and says he, you know little of me, if you think I will defift from my demand.
The lady now arrives at Venice, in her lawyer's dress; and alighting at an inn, the landlord asks of one of the servants who his master was ? The servant answered, that he was a young lawyer who had finished his studies at Bologna. The landlord upon this thews his guest great civility: and when he attended at dinner, the lawyer enquiring how justice was administered in that city, he answered, justice in this place is too severe, and related the case of Ansaldo. Says the lawyer, this question may be easily answered. If you can answer it, says the landlord, and save this worthy man from death, you will get the love and esteem of all the best 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 cales in law. Giannetto proposed to the lew to apply to this lawyer. With all my heart, Tays the Jew; but let who will come, I will stick to my bond. They came to this judge, and faluted 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, faid to the Jew, I must have you take the hundred thousand ducats, and release this hon it 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 pofitive 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 chuse. The Jew ordered him to be itripped naked; and takes in his hand a razor, which bad been made on purpose. Giannetto seeing this, turring to the judge, this, says he is noc the favour I asked of you. Be quiet, says he, the pound of fleih 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 te.d to be itruck off: and belide, if you shed one drop of blood, you shall be put to death. Your paper makes no mention of the shedding of blood; but fays exprelly, that you may take a pound of tch, neither more nor less.
He immediately sent for the executioner to bring the block and ax; and now, says he, if I see one drop of blood, off goes your head. At length the Jew, after much wrangling, told him, Give me the hundred thousand ducats, and I am content. No, says the judge, cut off your pound of Aeth 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 dem, 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 fhew you. I cannot go with you, says the lawyer; but since you speak fo much good of her, I must desire you to present my respects to her. I will not fail, Giannetto answered ; and now, let me entreat you to accept of 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 fall seek no other reward. Willingly, says Giannetto; but as it is a ring given me by my lady, to wear for her fake, I have some reluctance to part with it, and me, not feeing it on my finger, will believe, that I have given it to a woman. Says the lawyer, the efteems 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 foon as polible to your lady. It appears to me a thousand years till I fee 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 An
saldo 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 orders to have the streets lined with tapestry: and when Giannetto and Anfaldo 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 the 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 accuf. tomed good countenance, called her, and would have faluted her. She told him, she wanted none of his caresses: I am sure, says the, you have been lavish of them to some of your former mirtresses. 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 a woman : therefore swear no more. Giannetto protested that what he had told her was true, and that he faid 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 forrow he assured her, that what the 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 Thewed the ring, and told him, that the 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 companions; 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.
Uggieri de Figiovanni took a resolution of going, for some ciously received, and living there some time in great magnifi. cence, and giving remarkable -proofs of his courage, was greatly esteemed. Having frequent opportunities of examining 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 fome 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 fet 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 beaft, except his, began to ftale. Riding on further, they came to a river, and watering the beasts, his mule ftaled 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 is plain, you give where you ought not to give, and where you ought to give, you give nothing; in the same manner the mule would not Itale where she ought, and where the ought not, there she faled. The king said upon this, If I have not rewarded you as I have many, do not entertain a thought that I was insensible to your great merit; it is Fortune who hindered me; she is to blame, and not I; and I will Mew you manifestly that I speak truth. My discontent, fir, proceeds 'not, answered Ruggieri, from a desire of being enriched, but from your not having given the smallest testimony to my deserts in your service: nevertheless your excuse is valid, and I am ready to see the proof you mention, though I can easily believe you without it. The king conducted him to a hall, where he had already commanded two large caskets, fhut close, to be placed : and before a large company told Rugieri, that in one of them was contained his crown, scepter, and all his jewels, and that the other was full of earth : choose which of them you like best, and then
you will see that it is not I, but your fortune that has been ungrateful. Ruggieri chose one. It was found to be the casket full of earth. The king said to him with a smile, Now you may fee Ruggieri, that what I told you of Fortune is true ; but for your sake, I will oppose her with all my strength. You have no intention, I am certain, to live in Spain; therefore I will offer you no preferment here, but that casket which Fortune denied you, ihall be yours in despite of her ; carry it with you into your own