The rector of Fiesole loves a widow lady, by whom he is
not loved, and thinking to lie with her, lies with her
maid, with whom the lady's brothers cause him to be
found by his Bishop.
Elisa being come to the end of
her story, which in the telling
had yielded no small delight to all the company, the queen, turning
to Emilia, signified her will, that her story should ensue at once upon
that of Elisa. And thus with alacrity Emilia began:
how we are teased and tormented by these priests and friars, and
indeed by clergy of all sorts, I mind me to have been set forth in
more than one of the stories that have been told; but as 'twere not
possible to say so much thereof but that more would yet remain to
say, I purpose to supplement them with the story of a rector, who, in
defiance of all the world, was bent upon having the favour of a
gentlewoman, whether she would or no. Which gentlewoman,
being discreet above a little, treated him as he deserved.
Fiesole, whose hill is here within sight, is, as each of you knows,
a city of immense antiquity, and was aforetime great, though now
'tis fallen into complete decay; which notwithstanding, it always was,
and still is the see of a bishop. 
Now there was once a gentlewoman,
Monna Piccarda by name, a widow, that had an estate at Fiesole,
hard by the cathedral, on which, for that she was not in the easiest
circumstances, she lived most part of the year, and with her her two
brothers, very worthy and courteous young men, both of them.
And the lady being wont frequently to resort to the cathedral, and
being still quite young and fair and debonair withal, it so befell that
the rector grew in the last degree enamoured of her, and waxed at
length so bold, that he himself avowed his passion to the lady, praying
to entertain his love, and requite it in like measure.
was advanced in years, but otherwise the veriest springald, being bold
and of a high spirit, of a boundless conceit of himself, and of mien
and manners most affected and in the worst taste, and withal so tiresome
and insufferable that he was on bad terms with everybody, and,
if with one person more than another, with this lady, who not only
cared not a jot for him, but had liefer have had a headache than his
Wherefore the lady discreetly made answer: "I may
well prize your love, Sir, and love you I should and will right gladly;
but such love as yours and mine may never admit of aught that is
not honourable. You are my spiritual father and a priest, and now
verging towards old age, circumstances which should ensure your
honour and chastity; and I, on my part, am no longer a girl, such
as these love affairs might beseem, but a widow, and well you wot
how it behoves widows to be chaste. Wherefore I pray you to have
me excused; for, after the sort you crave, you shall never have my
love, nor would I in such sort be loved by you."
With this answer
the rector was for the nonce fain to be content; but he was not the
man to be dismayed and routed by a first repulse; and with his
wonted temerity and effrontery he plied her again and again with
letters and ambassages, and also by word of mouth, when he espied
her entering the church. Wherefore the lady finding this persecution
more grievous and harassing than she could well bear, cast about how
she might be quit thereof in such fashion as he deserved, seeing that
he left her no choice; howbeit she would do nought in the matter
until she had conferred with her brothers. 
She therefore told them
how the rector pursued her, and how she meant to foil him; and,
with their full concurrence, some few days afterwards she went, as
she was wont, to church. The rector no sooner saw her, than he
approached and accosted her, as he was wont, in a tone of easy
The lady greeted him, as he came up, with a glance
of gladsome recognition; and when he had treated her to not a little
of his wonted eloquence, she drew him aside, and heaving a great
"I have oftentimes heard it said, Sir, that there is no
castle so strong, but that, if the siege be continued day by day, it
will sooner or later be taken; which I now plainly perceive is my
own case. For so fairly have you hemmed me in with this, that, and
the other pretty speech or the like blandishments, that you have
me to make nought of my former resolve, and, seeing that I
find such favour with you, to surrender myself unto you."
overjoyed, the rector made answer: "Madam, I am greatly
honoured; and, sooth to say, I marvelled not a little how you should
hold out so long, seeing that I have never had the like experience
with any other woman, insomuch that I have at times said: 'Were
women of silver, they would not be worth a denier, for there is none
but would give under the hammer.' But no more of this: when and
where may we come together?"
"Sweet my lord," replied the lady,
"for the when, 'tis just as we may think best, for I have no husband
to whom to render account of my nights, but the where passes my
wit to conjecture."
"How so?" quoth the rector. "Why not in
your own house?"
"Sir," replied the lady, "you know that I have
two brothers, both young men, who day and night bring their comrades
into the house, which is none too large: for which reason it
might not be done there, unless we were minded to make ourselves,
as it were, dumb and blind, uttering never a word, not so much as a
monosyllable, and abiding in the dark: in such sort indeed it might
be, because they do not intrude upon my chamber; but theirs is so
near to mine that the very least whisper could not but be heard."
"Nay but, Madam," returned the rector, "let not this stand in our
way for a night or two, until I may bethink me where else we might
be more at our ease."
"Be that as you will, Sir," quoth the lady,
"I do but entreat that the affair be kept close, so that never a word
of it get wind."
"Have no fear on that score, Madam," replied the
priest; "and if so it may be, let us forgather to-night."
pleasure," returned the lady; and having appointed him how and
when to come, she left him and went home.
Now the lady had a maid, that was none too young, and had a
countenance the ugliest and most misshapen that ever was seen; for
indeed she was flat-nosed, wry-mouthed, and thick-lipped, with huge,
ill-set teeth, eyes that squinted and were ever bleared, and a complexion
betwixt green and yellow, that shewed as if she had spent the
summer not at Fiesole but at Sinigaglia: besides which she was hipshot
and somewhat halting on the right side.
Her name was Ciuta,
but, for that she was such a scurvy bitch to look upon, she was called
by all folk Ciutazza. And being thus misshapen of body, she
also not without her share of guile. 
So the lady called her and said:
"Ciutazza, so thou wilt do me a service to-night, I will give thee
a fine new shift."
At the mention of the shift Ciutazza made
answer: "So you give me a shift, Madam, I will throw myself
into the very fire."
"Good," said the lady; "then I would have
thee lie to-night in my bed with a man, whom thou wilt caress; but
look thou say never a word, that my brothers, who, as thou knowest,
sleep in the next room, hear thee not; and afterwards I will give
thee the shift."
"Sleep with a man!" quoth Ciutazza: "why, if
need be, I will sleep with six."
So in the evening Master Rector
came, as he had been bidden; and the two young men, as the lady
had arranged, being in their room, and making themselves very audible,
he stole noiselessly, and in the dark, into the lady's room, and got
him on to the bed, which Ciutazza, well advised by the lady how to
behave, mounted from the other side.
Whereupon Master Rector,
thinking to have the lady by his side, took Ciutazza in his arms, and
fell a kissing her, saying never a word the while, and Ciutazza did
the like; and so he enjoyed her, plucking the boon which he had so
The rector and Ciutazza thus closeted, the lady charged her
brothers to execute the rest of her plan. They accordingly stole
quietly out of their room, and hied them to the piazza, where
Fortune proved propitious beyond what they had craved of her; for,
it being a very hot night, the bishop had been seeking them, purposing
to go home with them, and solace himself with their society, and
quench his thirst. 
With which desire he acquainted them, as soon
as he espied them coming into the piazza; and so they escorted him
to their house, and there in the cool of their little courtyard, which
was bright with many a lamp, he took, to his no small comfort, a
draught of their good wine. 
Which done: "Sir," said the young
men, "since of your great courtesy you have deigned to visit our poor
house, to which we were but now about to invite you, we should be
gratified if you would be pleased to give a look at somewhat, a mere
trifle though it be, which we have here to shew you."
replied that he would do so with pleasure. Whereupon one of the
young men took a lighted torch and led the way, the bishop and
the rest following, to the chamber where Master Rector lay with
Now the rector, being in hot haste, had ridden hard, insomuch
that he was already gotten above three miles on his way when they
arrived; and so, being somewhat tired, he was resting, but, hot
though the night was, he still held Ciutazza in his arms.
posture he was shewn to the bishop, when, preceded by the young
man bearing the light, and followed by the others, he entered the
And being roused, and observing the light and the folk
that stood about him, Master Rector was mighty ashamed and
affrighted, and popped his head under the clothes. But the bishop,
reprimanding him severely, constrained him to thrust his head out
again, and take a view of his bed-fellow. 
Thus made aware of the
trick which the lady had played him, the rector was now, both on
that score and by reason of his signal disgrace, the saddest man that
ever was; and his discomfiture was complete, when, having donned
his clothes, he was committed by the bishop's command to close
custody and sent to prison, there to expiate his offence by a rigorous
The bishop was then fain to know how it had come about that
he had forgathered there with Ciutazza. 
Whereupon the young
men related the whole story; which ended, the bishop commended
both the lady and the young men not a little, for that they had taken
condign vengeance upon him without imbruing their hands in the
blood of a priest. 
The bishop caused him to bewail his transgression
forty days; but what with his love, and the scornful requital which
it had received, he bewailed it more than forty and nine days, not to
mention that for a great while he could not shew himself in the
street but the boys would point the finger at him and say:
"There goes he that lay with Ciutazza." Which was such an
affliction to him that he was like to go mad. On this wise the
worthy lady rid herself of the rector's vexatious importunity, and
Ciutazza had a jolly night and earned her shift.