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answered, that he knewe the woman very well, and commended her highly; but saide, she had a churle to her husband, and therefore he thought shee would bee the more tractable: trie her man, quoth hee; fainte hart neuer woonne fair lady; and if shee will not bee brought to the bent of your bowe, I will provide such a potion as shall dispatch all to your owne content; and to giue your further instructions for opportunitie, knowe that her husband is foorth euery afternoone from three till sixe, Thus farre I have aduised you, because I pitty your passions as my selfe being once a louer but now I charge thee, reueale it to none whomsoever, lest it doo disparage my credit, to meddle in amorous matters. The young gentleman not onely promised all carefull secrecy, but gaue him harty thanks for his good counsell, promising to meete him there the next day, and tell him what newes. Then hee left the old man, who was almost mad for feare his wife should any way play false. He saw by experience, braue men came to besiege the castle, and seeing it was in a woman's custodie, and had so weake a gouernor as himselfe, he doubted it would in time be deliuered up which feare made him almost franticke, yet he driude of the time in great torment, till he might heare from his riual. Lionello, he hastes him home, and sutes him in his brauerye, and goes down towards the house of Mutio, where he sees her at her windowe, whom he courted with a passionate looke, with such an humble salute, as shee might perceiue how the gentleman was affectionate. Margaretta looking earnestly upon him, and noting the perfection of his proportion, accounted him in her eye the flower of all Pisa; thinkte herselfe fortunate if she might haue him for her freend, to supply those defaultes that she - found in Mutio. Sundry times that afternoone he past by her window, and he cast not vp more louing lookes, then he received gratious fauours: which did so incourage him, that the next daye betweene three and sixe hee went to her house, and knocking at the doore, desired to speake with the mistris of the house, who hearing by her maid's description what he was, commaunded him to come in, where she interteined him with all curtesie.
"The youth that neuer before had giuen the attempt to couet a ladye, began his exordium with a blushe: and yet went forward so well, that he discourst vnto her howe he loued her, and that if it might please her so to accept of his seruice, as of a freende euer vowde in all ductye to bee at her commaunde, the care of her honour should bee deerer to him then his life, and hee would bee ready to prise her discontent with his bloud at all times.
"The gentlewoman was a little coye, but before they part they concluded that the next day at foure of the clock hee should come thither and eate a pound of cherries, which was resolued on with a succado des labras ; and so with a loath to depart they took their leaues. Lionello, as joyfull a man as might be, hyed him to the church to meete his olde doctor, where hee found him in his olde
walke. What newes, syr, quoth Mutio? How have you sped? Even as I can wishe, quoth Lionello; for I haue been with my mistresse, and haue found her so tractable, that I hope to make the old peasant her husband look broad-hedded by a pair of browantlers. How deepe this strooke into Mutio's hart, let them imagine that can conjecture what ielousie is; insomuch that the olde doctor askte, when should be the time: marry, quoth Lionello, to morrow at foure of the clocke in the afternoone; and then maister doctor, quoth hee, will I dub the olde squire knight of the forked order.
"Thus they past on in chat, till it grew late; and then Lyonello went home to his lodging, and Mutio to his house, couering all his sorrowes with a merrye countenance, with full resolution to revenge them both the next day with extremitie. He past the night as patiently as he could, and the next day after dinner awaye hee went, watching when it should bee four of the clocke. At the houre justly came Lyonello, and was intertained with all courtesie : but scarse had they kist, ere the maide cried out to her mistresse that her maister was at the doore; for he hasted, knowing that a horne was but a litle while in grafting. Margaret at this alarum was amazed, and yet for a shifte chopt Lyonello into a great driefatte full of feathers, and sat her downe close to her woorke: by that came Mutio in blowing; and as though he came to looke somewhat in haste, called for the keyes of his chambers, and looked in euery place, searching so narrowlye in eurye corner of the house, that he left not the very priuie vnsearcht. Seeing he could not finde him, hee saide nothing, but fayning himself not well at ease, stayde at home, so that poore Lionello was faine to staye in the drifatte till the old churle was in bed with his wife : and then the maide let him out at a backe doore, who went home with a flea in his eare to his lodging.
"Well, the next daye he went again to meete his doctor, whome hee found in his woonted walke. What news, quoth Mutio? How have you sped? A poxe of the old slaue, quoth Lionello, I was no sooner in, and had giuen my mistresse one kisse, but the iealous asse was at the door; the maide spied him, and, cryed, her maister: so that the poore gentlewoman for very shifte, was faine to put me in a driefatte of feathers that stoode in an olde chamber, and there I was faine to tarrie while he was in bed and asleepe, and then the maide let me out, and I departed.
"But it is no matter; 'twas but a chaunce; and I hope to crye quittance with him ere it be long. As how, quoth Mutio? Marry thus, quoth Lionello: she sent me woord by her maide this daye, that upon Thursday next the old churle suppeth with a patient of his a mile out of Pisa, and then I feare not but to quitte him for all. It is well, quoth Mutio; fortune bee your freende. I thank you, quoth Lionello; and so after a little more prattle they departed.
"To be shorte, Thursday came; and about sixe of the clocke
foorth goes Mutio, no further than a freendes house of his, from whence he might descrye who went into his house. Straight he sawe Lionello enter in; and after goes hee, insomuch that he was scarcelye sitten downe, before the mayde cryed out againe, my maister comes. The good wife that before had provided for afterclaps, had found out a priuie place between two seelings of a plauncher, and there she thrust Lionello; and her husband came sweting. What news, quoth shee, drives you home againe so soone, husband? Marrye, sweete wife, (quoth he,) a fearfull dreame that I had this night, which came to my remembrance; and that was this: Methought there was a villeine that came secretly into my house with a naked poinard in his hand, and hid himselfe; but I could not finde the place: with that mine nose bled, and I came backe; and by the grace of God I will seek euery corner in the house for the quiet of my minde. Marry I pray you do, husband, quoth she. With that he lockt in all the doors, and began to search euery chamber, euery hole, euery chest, euery tub, the very well; he stabd every featherbed through, and made hauocke, like a mad man, which made him thinke all was in vaine, and hee began to blame his eies that thought they saw that which they did not. Upon this he reste halfe lunaticke, and all night he was very wakefull; that towards the morning he fell into a dead sleepe, and then was Lionello conueighed away.
"In the morning when Mutio wakened, hee thought how by no means hee should be able to take Lyonello tardy; yet he laid in his head a most dangerous plot, and that was this. Wife, quoth he, I must the next Monday ride to Vicensa to visit an olde patient of mine; till my returne, which will be some ten dayes, I will have thee stay at our little graunge house in the countrey. Marry very well content, husband, quoth she: with that he kist her, and was verye pleasant, as though he had suspected nothing, and away hee flinges to the church, where he meetes Lionello. What sir, quoth he, what newes? Is your mistresse yours in possession? No, a plague of the old slaue, quoth he: I think he is either a witch, or els woorkes by magick: for I can no sooner enter in the doors, but he is at my backe, and so he was again yesternight; for I was not warm in my seat before the maide cried, my maister comes; and then was the poore soule faine to conueigh me between two seelings of a chamber in a fit place for the purpose: wher I laught hartely to myself, too see how he sought euery corner, ransackt euery tub, and stabd every featherbed, but in vaine; I was safe enough till the morning, and then when he was fast asleepe, I lept out. Fortune frowns on you, quoth Mutio: Ay, but I hope, quoth Lionello, this is the last time, and now shee will begin to smile; for on Monday next he rides to Vicensa, and his wyfe lyes at a grange house a little of the towne, and there in his absence I will revenge all forepassed misfortunes. God send it be so, quoth Mutio; and took his leaue. These two
louers longed for Monday, and at last it came. Early in the morning Mutio horst himselfe, and his wife, his maide, and a man, and no more, and away he rides to his grange house; where after he had brok his fast he took his leaue, and away towards Vicensa. He rode not far ere by a false way he returned into a thicket, and there with a company of cuntry peasants lay in an ambuscade to take the young gentleman. In the afternoon comes Lionello gallopping; and assoon as he came within sight of the house, he sent back his horse by his boy, & went easily afoot, and there at the very entry was entertained by Margaret, who led him up ye staires, and conuaid him into her bedchamber, saying he was welcome into so mean a cottage: but quoth she, now I hope fortune shal not envy the purity of our loues. Alas, alas, mistris (cried the maid,) heer is my maister, and 100 men with him, with bils and staues. We are betraid, quoth Lionel, and I am but a dead man. Feare not, quoth she, but follow me; and straight she carried him downe into a lowe parlor, where stoode an old rotten chest full of writinges. She put him into that, and couered him with old papers and euidences, and went to the gate to meet her husband. Why signior Mutio, what means this hurly burly, quoth she? Vile and shameless strumpet as thou art, thou shalt know by and by, quoth he. Where is thy loue?. All we haue watcht him, & seen him enter in now quoth he, shal neither thy tub of feathers, nor thy seeling serue, for perish he shall with fire, or els fall into my hands. Doo thy woorst, iealous foole, quoth she; I ask thee no fauour. With that in a rage he beset the house round, and then set fire on it. Oh! in what a perplexitie was poore Lionello, that was shut in a chest, and the fire about his eares? And how was Margaret passionat, that knew her louer in such danger? Yet she made light of the matter, and as one in a rage called her maid to her and said: Come on, wench; seeing thy maister mad with iealousie hath set the house and al my liuing on fire, I will be reuenged vpon him; help me heer to lift this old chest where all his writings and deeds are; let that burne first; and assoon as I see that on fire, I will walk towards my freends. for the old foole wil be beggard, and I will refuse him. Mutio that knew al his obligations and statutes lay there, puld her back, and bad two of his men carry the chest into the feeld, and see it were safe; himself standing by and seeing his house burnd downe, sticke and stone. Then quieted in his minde he went home with his wife, and began to flatter her, thinking assuredly y' he had burnd her paramour; causing his chest to be carried in a cart to his house at Pisa. Margaret impatient went to her mothers, and complained to her and to her brethren of the iealousie of her husband; who maintained her it be true, and desired but a daies respite to proue it. Wel, hee was bidden to supper the next night at her mothers, she thinking to make her daughter and him freends againe. In the meane time he to his woonted walk in the church,
and there præter expectationem he found Lionello walking. Wondring at this, he straight enquires, what news? What newes, maister doctor, quoth he, and he fell in a great laughing: in faith yesterday I scapt a scowring; for, syrrah, I went to the grange house, where I was appointed to come, and I was no sooner gotten vp the chamber, but the magicall villeine her husband beset the house with bils and staues, and that he might be sure no seeling nor corner should shrowde me, he set the house on fire, and so burnt it to the ground. Why, quoth Mutio, and how did you escape? Alas, quoth he, wel fare a woman's wit! She conueighed me into an old cheste full of writings, which she knew her husband durst not burne; and so was I saued and brought to Pisa, and yesternight by her maide let home to my lodging. This, quoth he, is the pleasantest iest that ever I heard; and vpon this I haue a sute to you. I am this night bidden foorth to supper; you shall be my guest: onelye I will craue so much favour, as after supper for a pleasant sporte to make relation what successe you haue had in your loues. For that I will not sticke, quothe he; and so he carried Lionello to his mother-in-lawes house with him, and discoursed to his wiues brethren who he was, and how at supper he would disclose the whole matter: for quoth he, he knowes not that I am Margarets husband. At this all the brethren bad him welcome, and so did the mother too; and Margaret she was kept out of sight. Supper-time being come, they fell to their victals, and Lionello was carrowst vnto by Mutio, who was very pleasant, to draw him to a merry humor, that he might to the ful discourse the effect and fortunes of his loue. Supper being ended, Mutio requested him to tel to the gentleman what had hapned between him and his mistresse. Lionello with a smiling countenance began to describe his mistresse, the house and street where she dwelt, how he fell in loue with her, and how he vsed the counsell of this doctor, who in al his affaires was his secretarye. Margaret heard all this with a greate feare; and when he came at the last point she caused a cup of wine to be giuen him by one of her sisters wherein was a ring that he had giuen Margaret. As he had told how he escapt burning, and was ready to confirm all for a troth, the gentlewoman drunke to him; who taking the cup, and seeing the ring, hauing a quick wit and a reaching head, spide the fetch, and perceiued that all this while this was his louers husband, to whome he had reuealed these escapes. At this drinking ye wine, and swallowing the ring into his mouth, he went forward: Gentlemen, quoth he, how like you of my loues and my fortunes? Wel, quoth the gentlemen; I pray you is it true? As true, quoth he, as if I would be so simple as to reueal what I did to Margaret's husband: for know you, gentlemen, that I knew this Mutio to be her husband whom I notified to be my louer; and for y' he was generally VOL. VIII.