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Fifth Day, Novel X

[042] Her husband's story shewed his wife that there were other ladies as knowing as she, albeit misfortune might sometimes overtake them; and gladly would she have spoken out in defence of Ercolano's wife, but, thinking that, by censuring another's sin, she would secure more scope for her own, she launched out on this wise: [043]"Fine doings indeed, a right virtuous and saintly lady she must be: here is the loyalty of an honest woman, and one to whom I had lief have confessed, so spiritual I deemed her; and the worst of it is that, being no longer young, she sets a rare example to those that are so. [044] Curses on the hour that she came into the world: curses upon her that she make not away with herself, basest, most faithless of women that she must needs be, the reproach of her sex, the opprobrium of all the ladies of this city, to cast aside all regard for her honour, her marriage vow, her reputation before the world, and, lost to all sense of shame, to scruple not to bring disgrace upon a man so worthy, a citizen so honourable, a husband by whom she was so well treated, ay, and upon herself to boot! [045] By my hope of salvation no mercy should be shewn to such women; they should pay the penalty with their lives; to the fire with them while they yet live, and let them be burned to ashes." [046] Then, calling to mind the lover that she had close at hand in the hen-coop, she fell to coaxing Pietro to get him to bed, for the hour grew late. Pietro, who was more set on eating than sleeping, only asked whether there was aught he might have by way of supper. [047] "Supper, forsooth!" replied the lady. "Ay, of course 'tis our way to make much of supper when thou art not at home. As if I were Ercolano's wife! Now, wherefore tarry longer? Go, get thy night's rest: 'twere far better for thee."