The luminary, before whose splendour the night takes wing, had already changed the eighth heaven(1) from azure to the lighter blue,(2) and in the meads the flowerets were beginning to lift their heads, when Emilia, being risen, roused her fair gossips, and, likewise, the young men. And so the queen leading the way at an easy pace, and the rest of the company following, they hied them to a copse at no great distance from the palace. Where, being entered, they saw the goats and stags and other wild creatures, as if witting that in this time of pestilence they had nought to fear from the hunter, stand awaiting them with no more sign of fear than if they had been tamed: and so, making now towards this, now towards the other of them as if to touch them, they diverted themselves for a while by making them skip and run. But, as soon as the sun was in the ascendant, by common consent they turned back, and whoso met them, garlanded as they were with oak-leaves, and carrying store of fragrant herbs or flowers in their hands might well have said:—“Either shall death not vanquish these, or they will meet it with a light heart.” So, slowly wended they their way, now singing, now bandying quips and merry jests, to the palace, where they found all things in order meet, and their servants in blithe and merry cheer. A while they rested, nor went they to table until six ditties, each gayer than that which went before, had been sung by the young men and the ladies; which done, they washed their hands, and all by the queen’s command were ranged by the seneschal at the table; and, the viands being served, they cheerily took their meal: wherefrom being risen, they trod some measures to the accompaniment of music; and then, by the queen’s command, whoso would betook him to rest. However, the accustomed hour being come, they all gathered at the wonted spot for their discoursing, and the queen, bending her regard upon Filomena, bade her make a beginning of the day’s story-telling, which she with a smile did on this wise:—
(1) I.e. in the Ptolemaic system, the region of the fixed stars.
(2) Cilestro: a word for which we have no exact equivalent, the dominant note of the Italian sky, when the sun is well up, being its intense luminosity.
— Madonna Francesca, having two lovers, the one Rinuccio, the other Alessandro, by name, and loving neither of them, induces the one to simulate a corpse in a tomb, and the other to enter the tomb to fetch him out: whereby, neither satisfying her demands, she artfully rids herself of both. —