Week 10: Boccaccio's Decameron

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Lauretta: The Adventures of Ferondo, cont.

Reading time: 5 minutes. Word count: 900 words.

The abbot begins his affair with Ferondo's "widow," and he dresses himself in Ferondo's clothes so that anyone meeting him along the way might think he was Ferondo's ghost, doing some penance among the living. Meanwhile, the abbot's assistant is busy torturing Ferondo in purgatory, punishing him for the sin of having been jealous of his wife while he was alive.

The day after, the abbot with some of his monks paid a pastoral visit to the lady's house, where he found her in mourning weeds and sad at heart; and, after administering a little consolation, he gently asked her to redeem her promise. Free as she now felt herself, and hampered neither by Ferondo nor by any other, the lady, who had noticed another beautiful ring on the abbot's finger, promised immediate compliance, and arranged with the abbot that he should visit her the very next night.

So, at nightfall, the abbot donned Ferondo's clothes, and, attended by his monk, paid his visit, and lay with her until matins to his immense delight and solace, and so returned to the abbey; and many visits he paid her on the same errand; whereby some that met him, coming or going that way, supposed that 'twas Ferondo perambulating those parts by way of penance; and fables not a few passed from mouth to mouth of the foolish rustics, and sometimes reached the ears of the lady, who was at no loss to account for them.

As for Ferondo, when he revived, 'twas only to find himself he knew not where, while the Bolognese monk entered the tomb, gibbering horribly, and armed with a rod, wherewith, having laid hold of Ferondo, he gave him a severe thrashing. Blubbering and bellowing for pain, Ferondo could only ejaculate:—"Where am I?"

"In purgatory," replied the monk.

"How?" returned Ferondo, "am I dead then?" and the monk assuring him that 'twas even so, he fell a bewailing his own and his lady's and his son's fate, after the most ridiculous fashion in the world. The monk brought him somewhat to eat and drink. Of which when Ferondo caught sight, "Oh!" said he, "dead folk eat then, do they?"

"They do," replied the monk, "And this, which I bring thee, is what the lady that was thy wife sent this morning to the church by way of alms for masses for thy soul; and God is minded that it be assigned to thee."

"Now God grant her a happy year," said Ferondo; "dearly I loved her while I yet lived, and would hold her all night long in my arms, and cease not to kiss her, ay, and would do yet more to her, when I was so minded." Whereupon he fell to eating and drinking with great avidity, and finding the wine not much to his taste, he said:—"Now God do her a mischief! Why gave she not the priest of the wine that is in the cask by the wall?"

When he had done eating, the monk laid hold of him again, and gave him another sound thrashing with the rod. Ferondo bellowed mightily, and then cried out:—"Alas! why servest thou me so?"

"God," answered the monk, "has decreed that thou be so served twice a day."

"For why?" said Ferondo.

"Because," returned the monk, "thou wast jealous, notwithstanding thou hadst to wife a woman that has not her peer in thy countryside."

"Alas," said Ferondo, "she was indeed all that thou sayst, ay, and the sweetest creature too,—no comfit so honeyed—but I knew not that God took it amiss that a man should be jealous, or I had not been so."

"Of that," replied the monk, "thou shouldst have bethought thee while thou wast there, and have amended thy ways; and should it fall to thy lot ever to return thither, be sure that thou so lay to heart the lesson that I now give thee, that thou be no more jealous."

"Oh!" said Ferondo; "dead folk sometimes return to earth, do they?"

"They do," replied the monk; "if God so will."

"Oh!" said Ferondo; "if I ever return, I will be the best husband in the world; never will I beat her or scold her, save for the wine that she has sent me this morning, and also for sending me never a candle, so that I have had perforce to eat in the dark."

"Nay," said the monk, "she sent them, but they were burned at the masses."

"Oh!" said Ferondo, "I doubt not you say true; and, of a surety, if I ever return, I will let her do just as she likes. But tell me, who art thou that entreatest me thus?"

"Late of Sardinia I," answered the monk, "dead too; and, for that I gave my lord much countenance in his jealousy, doomed by God for my proper penance to entreat thee thus with food and drink and thrashings, until such time as He may ordain otherwise touching thee and me."

"And are we two the only folk here?" inquired Ferondo.

"Nay, there are thousands beside," answered the monk; "but thou canst neither see nor hear them, nor they thee."

"And how far," said Ferondo, "may we be from our country?"

"Oh! ho!" returned the monk, "why, 'tis some miles clean out of shitrange."

"I'faith," said Ferondo, "that is far indeed: methinks we must be out of the world."

Questions. Make sure you can answer these questions about what you just read:

  • why does the abbot dress in Ferondo's clothes when he visit's Ferondo's wife?
  • what does the monk tell Ferondo about the food and drink he receives in "Purgatory"?
  • what does the monk tell Ferondo is the cause for the whippings he is receiving?

Source: Decameron, by Boccaccio: Book 3, Novel 8. Translation by J.M. Rigg (1903). Website: Decameron Web. Volume 1 (= Days 1-4) available at Project Gutenberg.

Modern Languages MLLL-2003. World Literature: Frametales. Laura Gibbs, Ph.D. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License. You must give the original author credit. You may not use this work for commercial purposes. If you alter, transform, or build upon this work, you may distribute the resulting work only under a license identical to this one.
Page last updated: October 9, 2004 12:48 PM