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Ninth Day, Novel I

[018] The maid did her mistress's errand, omitting nothing, to both the men, and received from each the same answer, to wit, that to pleasure the lady, he would adventure a journey to hell, to say nothing of entering a tomb. With which answer the maid returned to the lady, who waited to see if they would be such fools as to make it good. [019] Night came, and at the hour of first sleep Alessandro Chiarmontesi, stripped to his doublet, quitted his house, and bent his steps towards Scannadio's tomb, with intent there to take the dead man's place. As he walked, there came upon him a great fear, [020] and he fell a saying to himself: Ah! what a fool am I! Whither go I? How know I that her kinsmen, having detected my love, and surmising that which is not, have not put her upon requiring this of me, in order that they may slay me in the tomb? In which event I alone should be the loser, for nought would ever be heard of it, so that they would escape scot-free. Or how know I but that 'tis some machination of one of my ill-wishers, whom perchance she loves, and is therefore minded to abet? [021] And again quoth he to himself: But allowing that 'tis neither the one nor the other, and that her kinsmen are really to carry me to her house, I scarce believe that 'tis either that they would fain embrace Scannadio's corpse themselves, or let her do so: rather it must be that they have a mind to perpetrate some outrage upon it, for that, perchance, he once did them an evil turn. [022]She bids me say never a word, no matter what I may hear or be otherwise ware of. Suppose they were to pluck out my eyes, or my teeth, or cut off my hands, or treat me to some other horse-play of the like sort, how then? how could I keep quiet? [023] And if I open my mouth, they will either recognize me, and perchance do me a mischief, or, if they spare me, I shall have been at pains for nought, for they will not leave me with the lady, and she will say that I disobeyed her command, and I shall never have aught of her favours.