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The Decameron of Giovanni Boccaccio Part 25

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Meanwhile Pietro abode, as woebegone as could be, in the oak, and towards the season of the first sleep, he saw a good score of wolves appear, which came all about his hackney, as soon as they saw him. The horse, scenting them, tugged at his bridle, till he broke it, and would have fled, but being surrounded and unable to escape, he defended himself a great while with his teeth and his hoofs. At last, however, he was brought down and strangled and quickly disembowelled by the wolves, which took all their fill of his flesh and having devoured him, made off, without leaving aught but the bones, whereat Pietro, to whom it seemed he had in the rouncey a companion and a support in his troubles, was sore dismayed and misdoubted he should never avail to win forth of the wood. However, towards daybreak, being perished with cold in the oak and looking still all about him, he caught sight of a great fire before him, mayhap a mile off, wherefore, as soon as it was grown broad day, he came down from the oak, not without fear, and making for the fire, fared on till he came to the place, where he found shepherds eating and making merry about it, by whom he was received for compassion.

After he had eaten and warmed himself, he acquainted them with his misadventure and telling them how he came thither alone, asked them if there was in those parts a village or castle, to which he might betake himself. The shepherds answered that some three miles thence there was a castle belonging to Lionello di Campodifiore, whose lady was presently there; whereat Pietro was much rejoiced and besought them that one of them should accompany him to the castle, which two of them readily did. There he found some who knew him and was in act to enquire for a means of having search made about the forest for the damsel, when he was bidden to the lady's presence and incontinent repaired to her. Never was joy like unto his, when he saw Agnolella with her, and he was all consumed with desire to embrace her, but forbore of respect for the lady, and if he was glad, the girl's joy was no less great. The gentle lady, having welcomed him and made much of him and heard from him what had betided him, chid him amain of that which he would have done against the will of his kinsfolk; but, seeing that he was e'en resolved upon this and that it was agreeable to the girl also, she said in herself, 'Why do I weary myself in vain? These two love and know each other and both are friends of my husband. Their desire is an honourable one and meseemeth it is pleasing to God, since the one of them hath scaped the gibbet and the other the lance-thrust and both the wild beasts of the wood; wherefore be it as they will.'

Then, turning to the lovers, she said to them, 'If you have it still at heart to be man and wife, it is my pleasure also; be it so, and let the nuptials be celebrated here at Lionello's expense. I will engage after to make peace between you and your families.' Accordingly, they were married then and there, to the great contentment of Pietro and the yet greater satisfaction of Agnolella, and the gentle lady made them honourable nuptials, in so far as might be in the mountains.

There, with the utmost delight, they enjoyed the first-fruits of their love and a few days after, they took horse with the lady and returned, under good escort, to Rome, where she found Pietro's kinsfolk sore incensed at that which he had done, but contrived to make his peace with them, and he lived with his Agnolella in all peace and pleasance to a good old age."

THE FOURTH STORY



[Day the Fifth]

RICCIARDO MANARDI, BEING FOUND BY MESSER LIZIO DA VALBONA WITH HIS DAUGHTER, ESPOUSETH HER AND ABIDETH IN PEACE WITH HER FATHER

Elisa holding her peace and hearkening to the praises bestowed by the ladies her companions upon her story, the Queen charged Filostrato tell one of his own, whereupon he began, laughing, "I have been so often rated by so many of you ladies for having imposed on you matter for woeful discourse and such as tended to make you weep, that methinketh I am beholden, an I would in some measure requite you that annoy, to relate somewhat whereby I may make you laugh a little; and I mean therefore to tell you, in a very short story, of a love that, after no worse hindrance than sundry sighs and a brief fright, mingled with shame, came to a happy issue.

It is, then, noble ladies, no great while ago since there lived in Romagna a gentleman of great worth and good breeding, called Messer Lizio da Valbona, to whom, well nigh in his old age, it chanced there was born of his wife, Madam Giacomina by name, a daughter, who grew up fair and agreeable beyond any other of the country; and for that she was the only child that remained to her father and mother, they loved and tendered her exceeding dear and guarded her with marvellous diligence, looking to make some great alliance by her. Now there was a young man of the Manardi of Brettinoro, comely and lusty of his person, by name Ricciardo, who much frequented Messer Lizio's house and conversed amain with him and of whom the latter and his lady took no more account than they would have taken of a son of theirs. Now, this Ricciardo, looking once and again upon the young lady and seeing her very fair and sprightly and commendable of manners and fashions, fell desperately in love with her, but was very careful to keep his love secret. The damsel presently became aware thereof and without anywise seeking to shun the stroke, began on like wise to love him; whereat Ricciardo was mightily rejoiced. He had many a time a mind to speak to her, but kept silence of misdoubtance; however, one day, taking courage and opportunity, he said to her, 'I prithee, Caterina, cause me not die of love.' To which she straightway made answer, 'Would God thou wouldst not cause _me_ die!'

This answer added much courage and pleasure to Ricciardo and he said to her, 'Never shall aught that may be agreeable to thee miscarry[276]

for me; but it resteth with thee to find a means of saving thy life and mine.' 'Ricciardo,' answered she, 'thou seest how straitly I am guarded; wherefore, for my part, I cannot see how thou mayst avail to come at me; but, if thou canst see aught that I may do without shame to myself, tell it me and I will do it.' Ricciardo, having bethought himself of sundry things, answered promptly, 'My sweet Caterina, I can see no way, except that thou lie or make shift to come upon the gallery that adjoineth thy father's garden, where an I knew that thou wouldst be anights, I would without fail contrive to come to thee, how high soever it may be.' 'If thou have the heart to come thither,'

rejoined Caterina, 'methinketh I can well enough win to be there.'

Ricciardo assented and they kissed each other once only in haste and went their ways.

[Footnote 276: Lit. stand (_stare_), _i.e._ abide undone.]

Next day, it being then near the end of May, the girl began to complain before her mother that she had not been able to sleep that night for the excessive heat. Quoth the lady, 'Of what heat dost thou speak, daughter? Nay, it was nowise hot.' 'Mother mine,' answered Caterina, 'you should say "To my seeming," and belike you would say sooth; but you should consider how much hotter are young girls than ladies in years.' 'Daughter mine,' rejoined the lady, 'that is true; but I cannot make it cold and hot at my pleasure, as belike thou wouldst have me do. We must put up with the weather, such as the seasons make it; maybe this next night will be cooler and thou wilt sleep better.' 'God grant it may be so!' cried Caterina. 'But it is not usual for the nights to go cooling, as it groweth towards summer.'

'Then what wouldst thou have done?' asked the mother; and she answered, 'An it please my father and you, I would fain have a little bed made in the gallery, that is beside his chamber and over his garden, and there sleep. There I should hear the nightingale sing and having a cooler place to lie in, I should fare much better than in your chamber.' Quoth the mother, 'Daughter, comfort thyself; I will tell thy father, and as he will, so will we do.'

Messer Lizio hearing all this from his wife, said, for that he was an old man and maybe therefore somewhat cross-grained, 'What nightingale is this to whose song she would sleep? I will yet make her sleep to the chirp of the crickets.' Caterina, coming to know this, more of despite than for the heat, not only slept not that night, but suffered not her mother to sleep, still complaining of the great heat.

Accordingly, next morning, the latter repaired to her husband and said to him, 'Sir, you have little tenderness for yonder girl; what mattereth it to you if she lie in the gallery? She could get no rest all night for the heat. Besides, can you wonder at her having a mind to hear the nightingale sing, seeing she is but a child? Young folk are curious of things like themselves. Messer Lizio, hearing this, said, 'Go to, make her a bed there, such as you think fit, and bind it about with some curtain or other, and there let her lie and hear the nightingale sing to her heart's content.'

The girl, learning this, straightway let make a bed in the gallery and meaning to lie there that same night, watched till she saw Ricciardo and made him a signal appointed between them, by which he understood what was to be done. Messer Lizio, hearing the girl gone to bed, locked a door that led from his chamber into the gallery and betook himself likewise to sleep. As for Ricciardo, as soon as he heard all quiet on every hand, he mounted a wall, with the aid of a ladder, and thence, laying hold of certain toothings of another wall, he made his way, with great toil and danger, if he had fallen, up to the gallery, where he was quietly received by the girl with the utmost joy. Then, after many kisses, they went to bed together and took delight and pleasure one of another well nigh all that night, making the nightingale sing many a time. The nights being short and the delight great and it being now, though they thought it not, near day, they fell asleep without any covering, so overheated were they what with the weather and what with their sport, Caterina having her right arm entwined about Ricciardo's neck and holding him with the left hand by that thing which you ladies think most shame to name among men.

As they slept on this wise, without awaking, the day came on and Messer Lizio arose and remembering him that his daughter lay in the gallery, opened the door softly, saying in himself, 'Let us see how the nightingale hath made Caterina sleep this night.' Then, going in, he softly lifted up the serge, wherewith the bed was curtained about, and saw his daughter and Ricciardo lying asleep, naked and uncovered, embraced as it hath before been set out; whereupon, having recognized Ricciardo, he went out again and repairing to his wife's chamber, called to her, saying, 'Quick, wife, get thee up and come see, for that thy daughter hath been so curious of the nightingale that she hath e'en taken it and hath it in hand.' 'How can that be?' quoth she; and he answered, 'Thou shalt see it, an thou come quickly.'

Accordingly, she made haste to dress herself and quietly followed her husband to the bed, where, the curtain being drawn, Madam Giacomina might plainly see how her daughter had taken and held the nightingale, which she had so longed to hear sing; whereat the lady, holding herself sore deceived of Ricciardo, would have cried out and railed at him; but Messer Lizio said to her, 'Wife, as thou holdest my love dear, look thou say not a word, for, verily, since she hath gotten it, it shall be hers. Ricciardo is young and rich and gently born; he cannot make us other than a good son-in-law. An he would part from me on good terms, needs must he first marry her, so it will be found that he hath put the nightingale in his own cage and not in that of another.'

The lady was comforted to see that her husband was not angered at the matter and considering that her daughter had passed a good night and rested well and had caught the nightingale, to boot, she held her tongue. Nor had they abidden long after these words when Ricciardo awoke and seeing that it was broad day, gave himself over for lost and called Caterina, saying, 'Alack, my soul, how shall we do, for the day is come and hath caught me here?' Whereupon Messer Lizio came forward and lifting the curtain, answered, 'We shall do well.' When Ricciardo saw him, himseemed the heart was torn out of his body and sitting up in bed, he said, 'My lord, I crave your pardon for God's sake. I acknowledged to have deserved death, as a disloyal and wicked man; wherefore do you with me as best pleaseth you; but, I prithee, an it may be, have mercy on my life and let me not die.' 'Ricciardo,'

answered Messer Lizio, 'the love that I bore thee and the faith I had in thee merited not this return; yet, since thus it is and youth hath carried thee away into such a fault, do thou, to save thyself from death and me from shame, take Caterina to thy lawful wife, so that, like as this night she hath been thine, she may e'en be thine so long as she shall live. On this wise thou mayst gain my pardon and thine own safety; but, an thou choose not to do this, commend thy soul to God.'

Whilst these words were saying, Caterina let go the nightingale and covering herself, fell to weeping sore and beseeching her father to pardon Ricciardo, whilst on the other hand she entreated her lover to do as Messer Lizio wished, so they might long pass such nights together in security. But there needed not overmany prayers, for that, on the one hand, shame of the fault committed and desire to make amends for it, and on the other, the fear of death and the wish to escape,--to say nothing of his ardent love and longing to possess the thing beloved,--made Ricciardo freely and without hesitation avouch himself ready to do that which pleased Messer Lizio; whereupon the latter borrowed of Madam Giacomina one of her rings and there, without budging, Ricciardo in their presence took Caterina to his wife. This done, Messer Lizio and his lady departed, saying, 'Now rest yourselves, for belike you have more need thereof than of rising.'

They being gone, the young folk clipped each other anew and not having run more than half a dozen courses overnight, they ran other twain ere they arose and so made an end of the first day's tilting. Then they arose and Ricciardo having had more orderly conference with Messer Lizio, a few days after, as it beseemed, he married the damsel over again, in the presence of their friends and kinsfolk, and brought her with great pomp to his own house. There he held goodly and honourable nuptials and after went long nightingale-fowling with her to his heart's content, in peace and solace, both by night and by day."

THE FIFTH STORY

[Day the Fifth]

GUIDOTTO DA CREMONA LEAVETH TO GIACOMINO DA PAVIA A DAUGHTER OF HIS AND DIETH. GIANNOLE DI SEVERINO AND MINGHINO DI MINGOLE FALL IN LOVE WITH THE GIRL AT FAENZA AND COME TO BLOWS ON HER ACCOUNT. ULTIMATELY SHE IS PROVED TO BE GIANNOLE'S SISTER AND IS GIVEN TO MINGHINO TO WIFE

All the ladies, hearkening to the story of the nightingale, had laughed so much that, though Filostrato had made an end of telling, they could not yet give over laughing. But, after they had laughed awhile, the queen said to Filostrato, "Assuredly, if thou afflictedest us ladies yesterday, thou hast so tickled us to-day that none of us can deservedly complain of thee." Then, addressing herself to Neifile, she charged her tell, and she blithely began to speak thus: "Since Filostrato, discoursing, hath entered into Romagna, it pleaseth me on like wise to go ranging awhile therein with mine own story.

I say, then, that there dwelt once in the city of Fano two Lombards, whereof the one was called Guidotto da Cremona and the other Giacomino da Pavia, both men advanced in years, who had in their youth been well nigh always soldiers and engaged in deeds of arms. Guidotto, being at the point of death and having nor son nor other kinsmen nor friend in whom he trusted more than in Giacomino, left him a little daughter he had, of maybe ten years of age, and all that he possessed in the world, and after having bespoken him at length of his affairs, he died. In those days it befell that the city of Faenza, which had been long in war and ill case, was restored to somewhat better estate and permission to sojourn there was freely conceded to all who had a mind to return thither; wherefore Giacomino, who had abidden there otherwhile and had a liking for the place, returned thither with all his good and carried with him the girl left him by Guidotto, whom he loved and entreated as his own child.

The latter grew up and became as fair a damsel as any in the city, ay, and as virtuous and well bred as she was fair; wherefore she began to be courted of many, but especially two very agreeable young men of equal worth and condition vowed her a very great love, insomuch that for jealousy they came to hold each other in hate out of measure. They were called, the one Giannole di Severino and the other Minghino di Mingole; nor was there either of them but would gladly have taken the young lady, who was now fifteen years old, to wife, had it been suffered of his kinsfolk; wherefore, seeing her denied to them on honourable wise, each cast about to get her for himself as best he might. Now Giacomino had in his house an old serving-wench and a serving-man, Crivello by name, a very merry and obliging person, with whom Giannole clapped up a great acquaintance and to whom, whenas himseemed time, he discovered his passion, praying him to be favourable to him in his endeavour to obtain his desire and promising him great things an he did this; whereto quoth Crivello, 'Look you, I can do nought for thee in this matter other than that, when next Giacomino goeth abroad to supper, I will bring thee whereas she may be; for that, an I offered to say a word to her in thy favour, she would never stop to listen to me. If this like thee, I promise it to thee and will do it; and do thou after, an thou know how, that which thou deemest shall best serve thy purpose.' Giannole answered that he desired nothing more and they abode on this understanding. Meanwhile Minghino, on his part, had suborned the maidservant and so wrought with her that she had several times carried messages to the girl and had well night inflamed her with love of him; besides which she had promised him to bring him in company with her, so soon as Giacomino should chance to go abroad of an evening for whatever cause.

Not long after this it chanced that, by Crivello's contrivance, Giacomino went to sup with a friend of his, whereupon Crivello gave Giannole to know thereof and appointed with him that, whenas he made a certain signal, he should come and would find the door open. The maid, on her side, knowing nothing of all this, let Minghino know that Giacomino was to sup abroad and bade him abide near the house, so that, whenas he saw a signal which she should make he might come and enter therein. The evening come, the two lovers, knowing nothing of each other's designs, but each misdoubting of his rival, came, with sundry companions armed, to enter into possession. Minghino, with his troop took up his quarters in the house of a friend of his, a neighbour of the young lady's; whilst Giannole and his friends stationed themselves at a little distance from the house. Meanwhile, Crivello and the maid, Giacomino being gone, studied each to send the other away. Quoth he to her, 'Why dost thou not get thee to bed? Why goest thou still wandering about the house?' 'And thou,' retorted she, 'why goest thou not for thy master? What awaitest thou here, now that thou hast supped?' And so neither could make other avoid the place; but Crivello, seeing the hour come that he had appointed with Giannole said in himself, 'What reck I of her? An she abide not quiet, she is like to smart for it.'

Accordingly, giving the appointed signal, he went to open the door, whereupon Giannole, coming up in haste with two companions, entered and finding the young lady in the saloon, laid hands on her to carry her off. The girl began to struggle and make a great outcry, as likewise did the maid, which Minghino hearing, he ran thither with his companions and seeing the young lady being presently dragged out at the door, they pulled out their swords and cried all, 'Ho, traitors, ye are dead men! The thing shall not go thus. What is this violence?'

So saying, they fell to hewing at them, whilst the neighbors, issuing forth at the clamour with lights and arms, began to blame Giannole's behaviour and to second Minghino; wherefore, after long contention, the latter rescued the young lady from his rival and restored her to Giacomino's house. But, before the fray was over, up came the town-captain's officers and arrested many of them; and amongst the rest Minghino and Giannole and Crivello were taken and carried off to prison. After matters were grown quiet again, Giacomino returned home and was sore chagrined at that which had happened; but, enquiring how it had come about and finding that the girl was nowise at fault, he was somewhat appeased and determined in himself to marry her as quickliest he might, so the like should not again betide.

Next morning, the kinsfolk of the two young men, hearing the truth of the case and knowing the ill that might ensue thereof for the imprisoned youths, should Giacomino choose to do that which he reasonably might, repaired to him and prayed him with soft words to have regard, not so much to the affront which he had suffered from the little sense of the young men as to the love and goodwill which they believed he bore to themselves who thus besought him, submitting themselves and the young men who had done the mischief to any amends it should please him take. Giacomino, who had in his time seen many things and was a man of sense, answered briefly, 'Gentlemen, were I in mine own country, as I am in yours, I hold myself so much your friend that neither in this nor in otherwhat would I do aught save insomuch as it should please you; besides, I am the more bounden to comply with your wishes in this matter, inasmuch as you have therein offended against yourselves, for that the girl in question is not, as belike many suppose, of Cremona nor of Pavia; nay, she is a Faentine,[277]

albeit neither I nor she nor he of whom I had her might ever learn whose daughter she was; wherefore, concerning that whereof you pray me, so much shall be done by me as you yourselves shall enjoin me.'

[Footnote 277: _i.e._ a native of Faenza (_Faentina_).]

The gentlemen, hearing this, marvelled and returning thanks to Giacomino for his gracious answer, prayed him that it would please him tell them how she came to his hands and how he knew her to be a Faentine; whereto quoth he, 'Guidotto da Cremona, who was my friend and comrade, told me, on his deathbed, that, when this city was taken by the Emperor Frederick and everything given up to pillage, he entered with his companions into a house and found it full of booty, but deserted by its inhabitants, save only this girl, who was then some two years old or thereabouts and who, seeing him mount the stairs, called him "father"; whereupon, taking compassion upon her, he carried her off with him to Fano, together with all that was in the house, and dying there, left her to me with what he had, charging me marry her in due time and give her to her dowry that which had been hers. Since she hath come to marriageable age, I have not yet found an occasion of marrying her to my liking, though I would gladly do it, rather than that another mischance like that of yesternight should betide me on her account.'

Now among the others there was a certain Guiglielmino da Medicina, who had been with Guidotto in that affair[278] and knew very well whose house it was that he had plundered, and he, seeing the person in question[279] there among the rest, accosted him, saying, 'Bernabuccio, hearest thou what Giacomino saith?' 'Ay do I,' answered Bernabuccio, 'and I was presently in thought thereof, more by token that I mind me to have lost a little daughter of the age whereof Giacomino speaketh in those very troubles.' Quoth Guiglielmino, 'This is she for certain, for that I was once in company with Guidotto, when I heard him tell where he had done the plundering and knew it to be thy house that he had sacked; wherefore do thou bethink thee if thou mayst credibly recognize her by any token and let make search therefor; for thou wilt assuredly find that she is thy daughter.'

[Footnote 278: _A questo fatto_, _i.e._ at the storm of Faenza.]

[Footnote 279: _i.e._ the owner of the plundered house.]

Accordingly, Bernabuccio bethought himself and remembered that she should have a little cross-shaped scar over her left ear, proceeding from a tumour, which he had caused cut for her no great while before that occurrence; whereupon, without further delay, he accosted Giacomino, who was still there, and besought him to carry him to his house and let him see the damsel. To this he readily consented and carrying him thither, let bring the girl before him. When Bernabuccio set eyes on her, himseemed he saw the very face of her mother, who was yet a handsome lady; nevertheless, not contenting himself with this, he told Giacomino that he would fain of his favour have leave to raise her hair a little above her left ear, to which the other consented.

Accordingly, going up to the girl, who stood shamefast, he lifted up her hair with his right hand and found the cross; whereupon, knowing her to be indeed his daughter, he fell to weeping tenderly and embracing her, notwithstanding her resistance; then, turning to Giacomino, 'Brother mine,' quoth he, 'this is my daughter; it was my house Guidotto plundered and this girl was, in the sudden alarm, forgotten there of my wife and her mother; and until now we believed that she had perished with the house, which was burned me that same day.'

The girl, hearing this, and seeing him to be a man in years, gave credence to his words and submitting herself to his embraces, as moved by some occult instinct, fell a-weeping tenderly with him. Bernabuccio presently sent for her mother and other her kinswomen and for her sisters and brothers and presented her to them all, recounting the matter to them; then, after a thousand embraces, he carried her home to his house with the utmost rejoicing, to the great satisfaction of Giacomino. The town-captain, who was a man of worth, learning this and knowing that Giannole, whom he had in prison, was Bernabuccio's son and therefore the lady's own brother, determined indulgently to overpass the offence committed by him and released with him Minghino and Crivello and the others who were implicated in the affair.

Moreover, he interceded with Bernabuccio and Giacomino concerning these matters and making peace between the two young men, gave the girl, whose name was Agnesa, to Minghino to wife, to the great contentment of all their kinsfolk; whereupon Minghino, mightily rejoiced, made a great and goodly wedding and carrying her home, lived with her many years after in peace and weal."

THE SIXTH STORY

[Day the Fifth]

GIANNI DI PROCIDA BEING FOUND WITH A YOUNG LADY, WHOM HE LOVED AND WHO HAD BEEN GIVEN TO KING FREDERICK OF SICILY, IS BOUND WITH HER TO A STAKE TO BE BURNT; BUT, BEING RECOGNIZED BY RUGGIERI DELL' ORIA, ESCAPETH AND BECOMETH HER HUSBAND

Neifile's story, which had much pleased the ladies, being ended, the queen bade Pampinea address herself to tell another, and she accordingly, raising her bright face, began: "Exceeding great, charming ladies, is the might of Love and exposeth lovers to sore travails, ay, and to excessive and unforeseen perils, as may be gathered from many a thing that hath been related both to-day and otherwhiles; nevertheless, it pleaseth me yet again to demonstrate it to you with a story of an enamoured youth.

Ischia is an island very near Naples, and therein, among others, was once a very fair and sprightly damsel, by name Restituta, who was the daughter of a gentleman of the island called Marino Bolgaro and whom a youth named Gianni, a native of a little island near Ischia, called Procida, loved more than his life, as she on like wise loved him. Not only did he come by day from Procida to see her, but oftentimes anights, not finding a boat, he had swum from Procida to Ischia, at the least to look upon the walls of her house, an he might no otherwise. During the continuance of this so ardent love, it befell that the girl, being all alone one summer day on the sea-shore, chanced, as she went from rock to rock, loosening shell-fish from the stones with a knife, upon a place hidden among the cliffs, where, at once for shade and for the commodity of a spring of very cool water that was there, certain young men of Sicily, coming from Naples, had taken up their quarters with a pinnace they had. They, seeing that she was alone and very handsome and was yet unaware of them, took counsel together to seize her and carry her off and put their resolve into execution. Accordingly, they took her, for all she made a great outcry, and carrying her aboard the pinnace, made the best of their way to Calabria, where they fell to disputing of whose she should be.

Brief, each would fain have her; wherefore, being unable to agree among themselves and fearing to come to worse and to mar their affairs for her, they took counsel together to present her to Frederick, King of Sicily, who was then a young man and delighted in such toys.

Accordingly, coming to Palermo, they made gift of the damsel to the king, who, seeing her to be fair, held her dear; but, for that he was presently somewhat infirm of his person, he commanded that, against he should be stronger, she should be lodged in a very goodly pavilion, belonging to a garden of his he called La Cuba, and there tended; and so it was done.

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