A thousand times or more had Dioneo's story brought the laugh to
the lips of the honourable ladies, so quaint and curiously entertaining
found they the fashion of it. And now at its close the queen, seeing the
term of her sovereignty come, took the laurel wreath from her head,
and with mien most debonair, set it on the brow of Filostrato,
saying: "We shall soon see whether the wolf will know better
how to guide the sheep than the sheep have yet succeeded in guiding
Whereat Filostrato said with a laugh: "Had I been
hearkened to, the wolves would have taught the sheep to put the
Devil in hell even as Rustico taught Alibech. Wherefore call us not
wolves, seeing that you have not shewn yourselves sheep: however,
as best I may be able, I will govern the kingdom committed to my
Whereupon Neifile took him up: "Hark ye, Filostrato,"
she said, "while you thought to teach us, you might have learnt a
lesson from us, as did Masetto da Lamporecchio from the nuns, and
have recovered your speech when the bones had learned to whistle
without a master."
Filostrato, perceiving that there was a scythe
for each of his arrows, gave up jesting, and addressed himself to the
governance of his kingdom. He called the seneschal, and held him
strictly to account in every particular; he then judiciously ordered
all matters as he deemed would be best and most to the satisfaction of
the company, while his sovereignty should last; and having so done,
he turned to the ladies, and said:
"Loving ladies, as my ill luck
would have it, since I have had wit to tell good from evil, the charms
of one or other of you have kept me ever a slave to Love: and for
all I shewed myself humble and obedient and conformable, so far as
I knew how, to all his ways, my fate has been still the same, to be
discarded for another, and go ever from bad to worse; and so, I
suppose, 'twill be with me to the hour of my death. 
Wherefore I am
minded that to-morrow our discourse be of no other topic than that
which is most germane to my condition, to wit, of those whose loves
had a disastrous close: because mine, I expect, will in the long
run be most disastrous; nor for other cause was the name, by which
you address me, given me by one that well knew its signification."
Which said, he arose, and dismissed them all until supper-time.
So fair and delightsome was the garden that none saw fit to quit
it, and seek diversion elsewhere. Rather--for the sun now shone
with a tempered radiance that caused no discomfort--some of the
ladies gave chase to the kids and conies and other creatures that
haunted it, and, scampering to and fro among them as they sate,
had caused them a hundred times, or so, some slight embarrassment.
Dioneo and Fiammetta fell a singing of Messer Guglielmo
and the lady of Vergiù.
Filomena and Pamfilo sat them down to
a game of chess and, as thus they pursued each their several
diversions, time sped so swiftly that the supper-hour stole upon them
almost unawares: whereupon they ranged the tables round the
beautiful fountain, and supped with all glad and festal cheer.
When the tables were removed, Filostrato, being minded to
follow in the footsteps of his fair predecessors in sway, bade Lauretta
lead a dance and sing a song. She answered: "My lord, songs of
others know I none, nor does my memory furnish me with any of
mine own that seems meet for so gay a company; but, if you will
be content with what I have, gladly will I give you thereof."
"Nought of thine," returned the king, "could be other than
goodly and delectable. Wherefore give us even what thou hast."
encouraged, Lauretta, with dulcet voice, but manner somewhat
languishing, raised the ensuing strain, to which the other ladies
What dame disconsolate
May so lament as I,
That vainly sigh, to Love still dedicate?
He that the heaven and every orb doth move
Formed me for His delight
Fair, debonair and gracious, apt for love;
That here on earth each soaring spirit might
Have foretaste how, above,
That beauty shews that standeth in His sight.
Ah! but dull wit and slight,
For that it judgeth ill,
Liketh me not, nay, doth me vilely rate.
There was who loved me, and my maiden grace
Did fondly clip and strain,
As in his arms, so in his soul's embrace,
And from mine eyes Love's fire did drink amain,
And time that glides apace
In nought but courting me to spend was fain;
Whom courteous I did deign
Ev'n as my peer to entreat;
But am of him bereft! Ah! dolorous fate!
Came to me next a gallant swol'n with pride
Brave, in his own conceit,
And no less noble eke. Whom woe betide
That he me took, and holds in all unmeet
And I, who wot that me the world should greet
As the predestined sweet
Of many men, well-nigh
Despair, to be to one thus subjugate.
Ah! woe is me! cursed be the luckless day,
When, a new gown to wear,
I said the fatal ay; for blithe and gay
In that plain gown I lived, no whit less fair;
While in this rich array
A sad and far less honoured life I bear!
Would I had died, or e'er
Sounded those notes of joy
(Ah! dolorous cheer!) my woe to celebrate!
So list my supplication, lover dear,
Of whom such joyance I,
As ne'er another, had. Thou that in clear
Light of the Maker's presence art, deny
Not pity to thy fere,
Who thee may ne'er forget; but let one sigh
Breathe tidings that on high
Thou burnest still for me;
And sue of God that He me there translate.
So ended Lauretta her song, to which all hearkened attentively,
though not all interpreted it alike. Some were inclined to give it a
moral after the Milanese fashion, to wit, that a good porker was
better than pretty quean. Others construed it in a higher, better
and truer sense, which 'tis not to the present purpose to unfold.
Some more songs followed by command of the king, who caused
torches not a few to be lighted and ranged about the flowery mead;
and so the night was prolonged until the last star that had risen had
begun to set. Then, bethinking him that 'twas time for slumber,
the king bade all good-night, and dismissed them to their several