Calandrino, Bruno and Buffalmacco go in quest of the
heliotrope beside the Mugnone. Thinking to have
found it, Calandrino gets him home laden with stones.
His wife chides him: whereat he waxes wroth, beats
her, and tells his comrades what they know better
Ended Pamfilo's story, which
moved the ladies to inextinguishable
laughter, the queen bade Elisa follow suit: whereupon,
laughing, she thus began:
I know not, debonair my ladies, whether
with my little story, which is no less true than entertaining, I shall
give you occasion to laugh as much as Pamfilo has done with his,
but I will do my best.
In our city, where there has never been lack of odd humours
and queer folk, there dwelt, no long time ago, a painter named
Calandrino, a simple soul, of uncouth manners, that spent most of
his time with two other painters, the one Bruno, the other
Buffalmacco, by name, pleasant fellows enough, but not without
their full share of sound and shrewd sense, and who kept with
Calandrino for that they not seldom found his singular ways and
his simplicity very diverting. 
There was also at the same time
at Florence one Maso del Saggio, a fellow marvellously entertaining
by his cleverness, dexterity and unfailing resource; who having
heard somewhat touching Calandrino's simplicity, resolved to make
fun of him by playing him a trick, and inducing him to believe
some prodigy. 
And happening one day to come upon Calandrino in
the church of San Giovanni, where he sate intently regarding the
paintings and intaglios of the tabernacle above the altar, which had
but lately been set there, he deemed time and place convenient
for the execution of his design; 
which he accordingly imparted to
one of his comrades: whereupon the two men drew nigh the place
where Calandrino sate alone, and feigning not to see him fell a
talking of the virtues of divers stones, of which Maso spoke as aptly
and pertinently as if he had been a great and learned lapidary.
Calandrino heard what passed between them, and witting that 'twas
no secret, after a while got up, and joined them, to Maso's no small
delight. He therefore continued his discourse, and being asked by
Calandrino, where these stones of such rare virtues were to be found,
"Chiefly in Berlinzone, in the land of the Basques.
The district is called Bengodi, and there they bind the vines with
sausages, and a denier will buy a goose and a gosling into the
bargain; and on a mountain, all of grated Parmesan cheese, dwell
folk that do nought else but make macaroni and raviuoli, and boil
them in capon's broth, and then throw them down to be scrambled
for; and hard by flows a rivulet of Vernaccia, the best that ever
was drunk, and never a drop of water therein."
"Ah! 'tis a sweet
country!" quoth Calandrino; "but tell me, what becomes of the
capons that they boil?"
"They are all eaten by the Basques,"
Then: "Wast thou ever there?" quoth Calandrino.
Whereupon: "Was I ever there, sayst thou?" replied Maso.
"Why, if I have been there once, I have been there a thousand
"And how many miles is't from here?" quoth Calandrino.
"Oh!" returned Maso, "more than thou couldst number in a night
"Farther off, then, than the Abruzzi?" said
"Why, yes, 'tis a bit farther," replied Maso.
Now Calandrino, like the simple soul that he was, marking the
composed and grave countenance with which Maso spoke, could not
have believed him more thoroughly, if he had uttered the most patent
truth, and thus taking his words for gospel: "'Tis a trifle too far
for my purse," quoth he; "were it nigher, I warrant thee, I
would go with thee thither one while, just to see the macaroni
come tumbling down, and take my fill thereof. But tell me, so good
luck befall thee, are none of these stones, that have these rare virtues,
to be found in these regions?"
"Ay," replied Maso, "two sorts of
are found there, both of virtues extraordinary. The one sort
are the sandstones of Settignano and Montisci, which being made
into millstones, by virtue thereof flour is made; wherefore 'tis a
common saying in those countries that blessings come from God and
millstones from Montisci: but, for that these sandstones are in great
plenty, they are held cheap by us, just as by them are emeralds,
whereof they have mountains, bigger than Monte Morello, that shine
at midnight, a God's name! And know this, that whoso should make
a goodly pair of millstones, and connect them with a ring before ever
a hole was drilled in them, and take them to the Soldan, should get
all he would have thereby. 
The other sort of stone is the heliotrope,
as we lapidaries call it, a stone of very great virtue, inasmuch as
whoso carries it on his person is seen, so long as he keep it, by never
another soul, where he is not."
"These be virtues great indeed,"
quoth Calandrino; "but where is this second stone to be found?"
Whereto Maso made answer that there were usually some to be
found in the Mugnone.
"And what are its size and colour?" quoth
"The size varies," replied Maso, "for some are bigger
and some smaller than others; but all are of the same colour, being
All these matters duly marked and fixed in his memory,
Calandrino made as if he had other things to attend to, and took his
leave of Maso with the intention of going in quest of the stone, but
not until he had let his especial friends, Bruno and Buffalmacco,
know of his project.
So, that no time might be lost, but, postponing
everything else, they might begin the quest at once, he set about
looking for them, and spent the whole morning in the search.
length, when 'twas already past none, he called to mind that they
would be at work in the Faentine women's convent, and though
'twas excessively hot, he let nothing stand in his way, but at a pace
that was more like a run than a walk, hied him thither; and so soon
as he had made them ware of his presence, thus he spoke:
so you are but minded to hearken to me, 'tis in our power to
become the richest men in Florence; for I am informed by one that
may be trusted that there is a kind of stone in the Mugnone which
renders whoso carries it invisible to every other soul in the world.
Wherefore, methinks, we were wise to let none have the start of us,
but go search for this stone without any delay.
We shall find it
without a doubt, for I know what 'tis like, and when we have found it,
we have but to put it in the purse, and get us to the moneychangers,
whose counters, as you know, are always laden with groats
and florins, and help ourselves to as many as we have a mind to.
No one will see us, and so, hey presto! we shall be rich folk in the
twinkling of an eye, and have no more need to go besmearing the
walls all day long like so many snails."
Whereat Bruno and Buffalmacco
began only to laugh, and exchanging glances, made as if they
marvelled exceedingly, and expressed approval of Calandrino's project.
Then Buffalmacco asked, what might be the name of the stone.
Calandrino, like the numskull that he was, had already forgotten the
name: so he made answer: "Why need we concern ourselves
with the name, since we know the stone's virtue? methinks, we
were best to go look for it, and waste no more time."
said Bruno, "but what are the size and shape of the stone?"
are of all sizes and shapes," said Calandrino, "but they are all pretty
nearly black; wherefore, methinks, we were best to collect all the
black stones that we see until we hit upon it: and so, let us be off,
and lose no more time."
"Nay, but," said Bruno, "wait a bit."
And turning to Buffalmacco: "Methinks," quoth he, "that Calandrino
says well: but I doubt this is not the time for such work,
seeing that the sun is high, and his rays so flood the Mugnone as to
dry all the stones; insomuch that stones will now shew as white
that in the morning, before the sun had dried them, would shew as
besides which, to-day being a working-day, there will be for
one cause or another folk not a few about the Mugnone, who, seeing
us, might guess what we were come for, and peradventure do the like
themselves; whereby it might well be that they found the stone, and
we might miss the trot by trying after the amble.
you agree, methinks we were best to go about it in the morning,
when we shall be better able to distinguish the black stones from the
white, and on a holiday, when there will be none to see us."
Buffalmacco's advice being approved by Bruno, Calandrino
chimed in; and so 'twas arranged that they should all three go in
quest of the stone on the following Sunday. So Calandrino, having
besought his companions above all things to let never a soul in the
world hear aught of the matter, for that it had been imparted to him
in strict confidence, 
and having told them what he had heard touching
the land of Bengodi, the truth of which he affirmed with oaths, took
leave of them; and they concerted their plan, 
impatiently expected the Sunday morning. Whereon, about dawn,
he arose, and called them; and forth they issued by the Porta a San
Gallo, and hied them to the Mugnone, and following its course,
began their quest of the stone, Calandrino, as was natural, leading
the way, and jumping lightly from rock to rock, and wherever he
espied a black stone, stooping down, picking it up and putting it in
the fold of his tunic, 
while his comrades followed, picking up a stone
here and a stone there. Thus it was that Calandrino had not gone
far, before, finding that there was no more room in his tunic, he lifted
the skirts of his gown, which was not cut after the fashion of
Hainault, and gathering them under his leathern girdle and making
them fast on every side, thus furnished himself with a fresh and
capacious lap, which, however, taking no long time to fill, he made
another lap out of his cloak, which in like manner he soon filled
with stones. 
Wherefore, Bruno and Buffalmacco seeing that
Calandrino was well laden, and that 'twas nigh upon breakfast-time,
and the moment for action come: "Where is Calandrino?"
quoth Bruno to Buffalmacco. 
Whereto Buffalmacco, who had
Calandrino full in view, having first turned about and looked here,
there and everywhere, made answer: "That wot not I; but not
so long ago he was just in front of us."
"Not so long ago,
returned Bruno; "'tis my firm belief that at this very moment he is
at breakfast at home, having left to us this wild-goose chase of black
stones in the Mugnone."
"Marry," quoth Buffalmacco, "he did but
serve us right so to trick us and leave, seeing that we were so silly as
to believe him. Why, who could have thought that any but we
would have been so foolish as to believe that a stone of such rare
virtue was to be found in the Mugnone?"
Calandrino, hearing their
colloquy, forthwith imagined that he had the stone in his hand, and
by its virtue, though present, was invisible to them; and overjoyed by
such good fortune, would not say a word to undeceive them, but
determined to hie him home, and accordingly faced about, and put
himself in motion.
Whereupon: "Ay!" quoth Buffalmacco
to Bruno, "what are we about that we go not back too?"
then," said Bruno; "but by God I swear that Calandrino shall
never play me another such trick; and as to this, were I nigh him,
as I have been all the morning, I would teach him to remember it for
a month or so, such a reminder would I give him in the heel
with this stone." And even as he spoke he threw back his arm, and
launched the stone against Calandrino's heel. Galled by the blow,
Calandrino gave a great hop and a slight gasp, but said nothing, and
halted not. 
Then, picking out one of the stones that he had
collected: "Bruno," quoth Buffalmacco, "see what a goodly
stone I have here, would it might but catch Calandrino in the
back;" and forthwith he discharged it with main force upon the
said back. And in short, suiting action to word, now in this way,
now in that, they stoned him all the way up the Mugnone as far as
the Porta a San Gallo. 
There they threw away the stones they had
picked up, and tarried a while with the customs' officers, who, being
primed by them, had let Calandrino pass unchallenged, while their
laughter knew no bounds.
So Calandrino, halting nowhere, betook him to his house, which
was hard by the corner of the Macina. And so well did Fortune
prosper the trick, that all the way by the stream and across the city
there was never a soul that said a word to Calandrino, and indeed he
encountered but few, for most folk were at breakfast. 
sooner was Calandrino thus gotten home with his stones, than it so
happened that his good lady, Monna Tessa, shewed her fair face at
the stair's head, and catching sight of him, and being somewhat
annoyed by his long delay, chid him, saying: "What the Devil
brings thee here so late? Must breakfast wait thee until all other
folk have had it?"
Calandrino caught the words, and angered and
mortified to find that he was not invisible, broke out with: "Alas!
curst woman! so 'twas thou! Thou hast undone me: but, God's
faith, I will pay thee out." Whereupon he was upstairs in a trice,
and having discharged his great load of stones in a parlour, rushed
with fell intent upon his wife, and laid hold of her by the hair, and
threw her down at his feet, and beat and kicked her in every part of
her person with all the force he had in his arms and legs, insomuch
that he left never a hair of her head or bone of her body unscathed,
and 'twas all in vain that she laid her palms together and crossed her
fingers and cried for mercy.
Now Buffalmacco and Bruno, after making merry a while with
the warders of the gate, had set off again at a leisurely pace, keeping
some distance behind Calandrino. Arrived at his door, they heard the
noise of the sound thrashing that he was giving his wife; and
making as if they were but that very instant come upon the scene,
they called him. Calandrino, flushed, all of a sweat, and out of
breath, shewed himself at the window, and bade them come up.
They, putting on a somewhat angry air, did so; and espied Calandrino
sitting in the parlour, amid the stones which lay all about,
untrussed, and puffing with the air of a man spent with exertion,
while his lady lay in one of the corners, weeping bitterly, her hair all
dishevelled, her clothes torn to shreds, and her face livid, bruised and
So after surveying the room a while: "What means
this, Calandrino?" quoth they. "Art thou minded to build thee a
wall, that we see so many stones about?" And then, as they received
no answer, they continued: "And how's this? How comes
Monna Tessa in this plight? 'Twould seem thou hast given her a
beating! What unheard-of doings are these?"
What with the
weight of the stones that he had carried, and the fury with which he
had beaten his wife, and the mortification that he felt at the miscarriage
of his enterprise, Calandrino was too spent to utter a word
by way of reply. Wherefore in a menacing tone Buffalmacco began
"However out of sorts thou mayst have been, Calandrino,
thou shouldst not have played us so scurvy a trick as thou hast. To
take us with thee to the Mugnone in quest of this stone of rare
virtue, and then, without so much as saying either God-speed or
Devil-speed, to be off, and leave us there like a couple of gowks!
We take it not a little unkindly: and rest assured that thou shalt
never so fool us again."
Whereto with an effort Calandrino replied:
"Comrades, be not wroth with me: 'tis not as you think.
I, luckless wight! found the stone: listen, and you will no longer
doubt that I say sooth. When you began saying one to the other:
'Where is Calandrino?' I was within ten paces of you, and marking
that you came by without seeing me, I went before, and so, keeping
ever a little ahead of you, I came hither."
And then he told them the
whole story of what they had said and done from beginning to end,
and shewed them his back and heel, how they had been mauled by
the stones; after which:
"And I tell you," he went on, "that,
laden though I was with all these stones, that you see here, never a
word was said to me by the warders of the gate as I passed in, though
you know how vexatious and grievous these warders are wont to make
themselves in their determination to see everything: and moreover
I met by the way several of my gossips and friends that are ever
wont to greet me, and ask me to drink, and never a word said any or
them to me, no, nor half a word either; but they passed me by as
men that saw me not. 
But at last, being come home, I was met
and seen by this devil of a woman, curses upon her, forasmuch as all
things, as you know, lose their virtue in the presence of a woman;
whereby I from being the most lucky am become the most luckless
man in Florence: 
and therefore I thrashed her as long as I could stir
a hand, nor know I wherefore I forbear to sluice her veins for her,
cursed be the hour that first I saw her, cursed be the hour that I
brought her into the house!" And so, kindling with fresh wrath, he
was about to start up and give her another thrashing; 
and Bruno, who had listened to his story with an air of great
surprise, and affirmed its truth again and again, while they all but burst
with suppressed laughter, 
seeing him now frantic to renew his assault
upon his wife, got up and withstood and held him back, averring that
the lady was in no wise to blame for what had happened, but only he,
who, witting that things lost their virtue in the presence of women, had
not bidden her keep aloof from him that day; which precaution God
had not suffered him to take, either because the luck was not to be
his, or because he was minded to cheat his comrades, to whom he
should have shewn the stone as soon as he found it. 
And so, with
many words they hardly prevailed upon him to forgive his injured
wife, and leaving him to rue the ill-luck that had filled his house
with stones, went their way.