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Ninth Day, Novel VIII

Now having failed to catch the rogue, Messer Filippo was still very wroth, and inly fumed and fretted, being unable to make out aught from what the rogue had said save that Biondello was set on by some one or another to flout him. And while thus he vexed his spirit, up came Biondello; whom he no sooner espied than he made for him, and dealt him a mighty blow in the face, and tore his hair and coif, and cast his capuche on the ground, [024] and to his "Alas, Sir, what means this?" [025] still beating him amain: "Traitor," cried he; "I will give thee to know what it means to send me such a message. 'Colour the flask,' forsooth, and 'Catamites!' Dost take me for a stripling, to be befooled by thee?" [026] And therewith he pummelled Biondello's face all over with a pair of fists that were liker to iron than aught else, until it was but a mass of bruises; he also tore and dishevelled all his hair, tumbled him in the mud, rent all his clothes upon his back, and that without allowing him breathing-space to ask why he thus used him, or so much as utter a word. "Colour me the flask!" and "Catamites!" rang in his ears; [027] but what the words signified he knew not. [028] In the end very badly beaten, and in very sorry and ragged trim, many folk having gathered around them, they, albeit not without the utmost difficulty, rescued him from Messer Filippo's hands, and told him why Messer Filippo had thus used him, censuring him for sending him such a message, and adding that thenceforth he would know Messer Filippo better, and that he was not a man to be trifled with. [029]Biondello told them in tearful exculpation that he had never sent for wine to Messer Filippo: then, when they had put him in a little better trim, crestfallen and woebegone, he went home imputing his misadventure to Ciacco. [030] And when, many days afterwards, the marks of his ill-usage being gone from his face, he began to go abroad again, it chanced that Ciacco met him, and with a laugh: "Biondello," quoth he, "how didst thou relish Messer Filippo's wine?" [031] "Why, as to that," replied Biondello, "would thou hadst relished the lampreys of Messer Corso as much!" [032] "So!" returned Ciacco, "such meat as thou then gavest me, thou mayst henceforth give me, as often as thou art so minded; and I will give thee even such drink as I have given thee." [033] So Biondello, witting that against Ciacco his might was not equal to his spite, prayed God for his peace, and was careful never to flout him again.