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Ninth Day, Novel VIII

[006] Now one morning in Lent Biondello, being in the fish-market purchasing two mighty fat lampreys for Messer Vieri de' Cerchi, was observed thus engaged by Ciacco, who came up to him, and: "What means this?" quoth he. [007] "Why," replied Biondello, "'tis that yestereve Messer Corso Donati had three lampreys much finer than these and a sturgeon sent to his house, but as they did not suffice for a breakfast that he is to give certain gentlemen, he has commissioned me to buy him these two beside. Wilt thou not be there?"[008]"Ay, marry, that will I," returned Ciacco. [009] And in what he deemed due time he hied him to Messer Corso Donati's house, where he found him with some of his neighbours not yet gone to breakfast. And being asked by Messer Corso with what intent he was come, he answered: "I am come, Sir, to breakfast with you and your company." [010] "And welcome art thou," returned Messer Corso, "go we then to breakfast, for 'tis now the time." [011] So to table they went, where nought was set before them but pease and the inward part of the tunny salted, and afterwards the common fish of the Arno fried. Wherefore Ciacco, not a little wroth at the trick that he perceived Biondello had played him, resolved to pay him out. And not many days after Biondello, who had meanwhile had many a laugh with his friends over Ciacco's discomfiture, [012] met him, and after greeting him, asked him with a laugh what Messer Corso's lampreys had been like. "That question," replied Ciacco, "thou wilt be able to answer much better than I before eight days are gone by." [013] And parting from Biondello upon the word, he went forthwith and hired a cozening rogue, and having thrust a glass bottle into his hand, brought him within sight of the Loggia de' Cavicciuli; and there, pointing to a knight, one Messer Filippo Argenti, a tall man and stout, and of a high courage, and haughty, choleric and cross-grained as ne'er another, he said to him: [014] "Thou wilt go, flask in hand, to Messer Filippo, and wilt say to him: 'I am sent to you, Sir, by Biondello, who entreats you to be pleased to colour this flask for him with some of your good red wine, for that he is minded to have a good time with his catamites.' And of all things have a care that he lay not hands upon thee, for he would make thee rue the day, and would spoil my sport." [015] "Have I aught else to say?" enquired the rogue. [016] "Nothing more," returned Ciacco: "and now get thee gone, and when thou hast delivered the message, bring me back the flask, and I will pay thee."