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Fifth Day, Novel X

[048] Now so it was that some of Pietro's husbandmen had come to the house that evening with divers things from the farm, and had put up their asses in a stable that adjoined the veranda, but had neglected to water them; and one of the asses being exceeding thirsty, got his head out of the halter and broke loose from the stable, and went about nosing everything, if haply he might come by water: whereby he came upon the hen-coop, beneath which was the boy; [049] who, being constrained to stand on all fours, had the fingers of one hand somewhat protruding from under the hen-coop; and so as luck or rather ill-luck would have it, the ass trod on them; whereat, being sorely hurt, he set up a great howling, [050] much to the surprise of Pietro, who perceived that 'twas within his house. So forth he came, and hearing the boy still moaning and groaning, for the ass still kept his hoof hard down on the fingers, called out: "Who is there?" and ran to the hen-coop and raised it, and espied the fellow, who, besides the pain that the crushing of his fingers by the ass's hoof occasioned him, trembled in every limb for fear that Pietro should do him a mischief. [051] He was one that Pietro had long been after for his foul purposes: so Pietro, recognizing him, asked him: "What dost thou here?" The boy making no answer, save to beseech him for the love of God to do him no hurt, [052] Pietro continued: "Get up, have no fear that I shall hurt thee; but tell me: How, and for what cause comest thou to be here?"[053]The boy then confessed everything. Whereupon Pietro, as elated by the discovery as his wife was distressed, took him by the hand; and led him into the room where the lady in the extremity of terror awaited him; [054] and, having seated himself directly in front of her, said: "'Twas but a moment ago that thou didst curse Ercolano's wife, and averred that she ought to be burned, and that she was the reproach of your sex: why saidst thou not, of thyself? Or, if thou wast not minded to accuse thyself, how hadst thou the effrontery to censure her, knowing that thou hadst done even as she? Verily 'twas for no other reason than that ye are all fashioned thus, and study to cover your own misdeeds with the delinquencies of others: would that fire might fall from heaven and burn you all, brood of iniquity that ye are!"