The Decameron, Volume II eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 478 pages of information about The Decameron, Volume II.
him followed by all the rest, eager to see Scalza lose, and triumph in his discomfiture, and told Piero all that had been said.  Piero, who was a young man of sound sense, heard what Neri had to say; and then turning to Scalza:—­“And how,” quoth he, “mayst thou make good what thou averrest?” “I will demonstrate it,” returned Scalza, “by reasoning so cogent that not only you, but he that denies it shall acknowledge that I say sooth.  You know, and so they were saying but now, that the longer men’s descent, the better is their gentility, and I say that the Baronci are of longer descent, and thus better gentlemen than any other men.  If, then, I prove to you that they are of longer descent than any other men, without a doubt the victory in this dispute will rest with me.  Now you must know that when God made the Baronci, He was but a novice in His art, of which, when He made the rest of mankind, He was already master.  And to assure yourself that herein I say sooth, you have but to consider the Baronci, how they differ from the rest of mankind, who all have faces well composed and duly proportioned, whereas of the Baronci you will see one with a face very long and narrow, another with a face inordinately broad, one with a very long nose, another with a short one, one with a protruding and upturned chin, and great jaws like an ass’s; and again there will be one that has one eye larger than its fellow, or set on a lower plane; so that their faces resemble those that children make when they begin to learn to draw.  Whereby, as I said, ’tis plainly manifest that, when God made them, He was but novice in His art; and so they are of longer descent than the rest of mankind, and by consequence better gentlemen.”  By which entertaining argument Piero, the judge, and Neri who had wagered the supper, and all the rest, calling to mind the Baronci’s ugliness, were so tickled, that they fell a laughing, and averred that Scalza was in the right, and that he had won the wager, and that without a doubt the Baronci were the best gentlemen, and of the longest descent, not merely in Florence, but in the world and the Maremma to boot.  Wherefore ’twas not without reason that Pamfilo, being minded to declare Messer Forese’s ill-favouredness, said that he would have been hideous beside a Baroncio.

(1) In the Italian fisofoli:  an evidently intentional distortion.

(2) Villani, Istorie Fiorentine, iv. cap. ix., and Dante, Paradiso, xvi. 104, spell the name Barucci.

NOVEL VII.

—­ Madonna Filippa, being found by her husband with her lover, is cited before the court, and by a ready and jocund answer acquits herself, and brings about an alteration of the statute. —­

Fiammetta had been silent some time, but Scalza’s novel argument to prove the pre-eminent nobility of the Baronci kept all still laughing, when the queen called for a story from Filostrato, who thus began:—­Noble ladies, an excellent thing is apt speech on all occasions, but to be proficient therein I deem then most excellent when the occasion does most imperatively demand it.  As was the case with a gentlewoman, of whom I purpose to speak to you, who not only ministered gaiety and merriment to her hearers, but extricated herself, as you shall hear, from the toils of an ignominious death.

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The Decameron, Volume II from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.