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Fifth Day, Novel IV

[004] Know then, noble ladies, that 'tis no long time since there dwelt in Romagna a right worthy and courteous knight, Messer Lizio da Valbona by name, who was already verging upon old age, when, as it happened, there was born to him of his wife, Madonna Giacomina, [005] a daughter, who, as she grew up, became the fairest and most debonair of all the girls of those parts, and, for that she was the only daughter left to them, was most dearly loved and cherished by her father and mother, who guarded her with most jealous care, thinking to arrange some great match for her. [006] Now there was frequently in Messer Lizio's house, and much in his company, a fine, lusty young man, one Ricciardo de' Manardi da Brettinoro, whom Messer Lizio and his wife would as little have thought of mistrusting as if he had been their own son: who, now and again taking note of the damsel, that she was very fair and graceful, and in bearing and behaviour most commendable, and of marriageable age, fell vehemently in love with her, which love he was very careful to conceal. [007] The damsel detected it, however, and in like manner plunged headlong into love with him, to Ricciardo's no small satisfaction. [008] Again and again he was on the point of speaking to her, but refrained for fear; at length, however, he summoned up his courage, and seizing his opportunity, thus addressed her: "Caterina, I implore thee, suffer me not to die for love of thee." [009] Whereto the damsel forthwith responded: "Nay, God grant that it be not rather that I die for love of thee." [010] Greatly exhilarated and encouraged, Ricciardo made answer: "'Twill never be by default of mine that thou lackest aught that may pleasure thee; but it rests with thee to find the means to save thy life and mine." [011] Then said the damsel: "Thou seest, Ricciardo, how closely watched I am, insomuch that I see not how 'twere possible for thee to come to me; but if thou seest aught that I may do without dishonour, speak the word, and I will do it." [012] Ricciardo was silent a while, pondering many matters: then, of a sudden, he said: "Sweet my Caterina, there is but one way that I can see, to wit, that thou shouldst sleep either on or where thou mightst have access to the terrace by thy father's garden, where, so I but knew that thou wouldst be there at night, I would without fail contrive to meet thee, albeit 'tis very high."[013]"As for my sleeping there," replied Caterina, "I doubt not that it may be managed, if thou art sure that thou canst join me." [014] Ricciardo answered in the affirmative. Whereupon they exchanged a furtive kiss, and parted.