Dame you have chosen (without my counsell) a young man to your lover, who as me seemeth, is dull, fearefull, without any grace, and dastard-like coucheth at the frowning looke of your odious husband, whereby you have no delight nor pleasure with him: how farre better is the young man Philesiterus who is comely, beautifull, in the flower of his youth, liberall, courteous, valiant and stout against the diligent pries and watches of your husband, whereby to embrace the worthiest dames of this country, and worthy to weare a crowne of gold, for one part that he played to one that was jealous over his wife. Hearken how it was and then judge the diversity of these two Lovers: Know you not one Barbarus a Senator of our towne, whom the vulgar people call likewise Scorpion for his severity of manners? This Barbarus had a gentlewoman to his wife, whom he caused daily to be enclosed within his house, with diligent custody. Then the Bakers wife said, I know her very well, for we two dwelleth together in one house: Then you know (quoth the old woman) the whole tale of Philesiterus? No verily (said she) but I greatly desire to know it: therefore I pray you mother tell me the whole story. By and by the old woman which knew well to babble, began to tell as followeth.
THE FORTY-FIRST CHAPTER
How Barbarus being jealous over his wife, commanded that shee should be kept close in his house, and what happened.
You shall understand that on a day this Barbarus preparing himselfe to ride abroad, and willing to keepe the chastity of his wife (whom he so well loved) alone to himselfe, called his man Myrmex (whose faith he had tryed and proved in many things) and secretly committed to him the custody of his wife, willing him that he should threaten, that if any man did but touch her with his finger as he passed by, he would not onely put him in prison, and bind him hand and foote, but also cause him to be put to death, or else to be famished for lacke of sustenance, which words he confirmed by an oath of all the Gods in heaven, and so departed away: When Barbarus was gone, Myrmex being greatly astonied of his masters threatnings, would not suffer his mistresse to goe abroad, but as she sate all day a Spinning, he was so carefull that he sate by her; when night came he went with her to the baines, holding her by the garment, so faithfull he was to fulfill the commandement of his master: Howbeit the beauty of this matron could not be hidden from the burning eyes of Philesiterus, who considering her great chastity and how she was diligently kept by Myrmex, thought it impossible to have his purpose, yet (indeavouring by all kind of meanes to enterprise the matter, and remembring the fragility of man, that might be intised and corrupted with money, since as by gold the adamant gates may be opened) on a day, when he found Myrmex alone, he discovered his love, desiring him to shew his favour, (otherwise he should certainly dye) with