house. And as he went, being none too careful
of Alessandro, he swung him from time to time against
one or other of the angles of certain benches that
were by the wayside; and indeed the night was so dark
and murky that he could not see where he was going.
And when he was all but on the threshold of the lady’s
house (she standing within at a window with her maid,
to mark if Rinuccio would bring Alessandro, and being
already provided with an excuse for sending them both
away), it so befell that the patrol of the Signory,
who were posted in the street in dead silence, being
on the look-out for a certain bandit, hearing the
tramp of Rinuccio’s feet, suddenly shewed a light,
the better to know what was toward, and whither to
go, and advancing targes and lances, cried out:—“Who
goes there?” Whereupon Rinuccio, having little
leisure for deliberation, let Alessandro fall, and
took to flight as fast as his legs might carry him.
Alessandro, albeit encumbered by the graveclothes,
which were very long, also jumped up and made off.
By the light shewn by the patrol the lady had very
plainly perceived Rinuccio, with Alessandro on his
back, as also that Alessandro had the grave-clothes
upon him; and much did she marvel at the daring of
both, but, for all that, she laughed heartily to see
Rinuccio drop Alessandro, and Alessandro run away.
Overjoyed at the turn the affair had taken, and praising
God that He had rid her of their harass, she withdrew
from the window, and betook her to her chamber, averring
to her maid that for certain they must both be mightily
in love with her, seeing that ’twas plain they
had both done her bidding.
Crestfallen and cursing his evil fortune, Rinuccio
nevertheless went not home, but, as soon as the street
was clear of the patrol, came back to the spot where
he had dropped Alessandro, and stooped down and began
feeling about, if haply he might find him, and so do
his devoir to the lady; but, as he found him not,
he supposed the patrol must have borne him thence,
and so at last home he went; as did also Alessandro,
knowing not what else to do, and deploring his mishap.
On the morrow, Scannadio’s tomb being found
open and empty, for Alessandro had thrown the corpse
into the vault below, all Pistoia debated of the matter
with no small diversity of opinion, the fools believing
that Scannadio had been carried off by devils.
Neither of the lovers, however, forbore to make suit
to the lady for her favour and love, telling her what
he had done, and what had happened, and praying her
to have him excused that he had not perfectly carried
out her instructions. But she, feigning to believe
neither of them, disposed of each with the same curt
answer, to wit, that, as he had not done her bidding,
she would never do aught for him.
— An abbess rises in haste and in the
dark, with intent to surprise an accused nun abed
with her lover: thinking to put on her veil, she
puts on instead the breeches of a priest that she
has with her: the nun, espying her headgear,
and doing her to wit thereof, is acquitted, and thenceforth
finds it easier to forgather with her lover. —