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when I inform your excellency that I have myself seen these magnificent cabbages growing in that strange country; and I have seen the immense caldrons in which they are boiled, of such a vast construction that twenty workmen are engaged in framing them at once; and it is said that the sound of their hammers cannot be heard from opposite sides, as they sit in the huge vessel to complete their work.” The noble prelate, whose intellect was not of the highest order, opened his eyes still wider upon the Florentine, exclaiming, that he fancied such a capacious saucepan would contain sufficient food, were it rightly calculated, for the whole people of Cairo at one meal.
While they were thus engaged, a person made his approach, with an ape upon bis shouiders, intended as a present for the venerable archbishop, who, turning towards the canon, with a smiling countenance, noticed the very singular resemblance between the human figure and that of the sagacious animal before them. “ It is my serious opinion," continued he, “that if the beast had only a little more intellect, there would not be so much difference between him and ourselves, as some people imagine.”—“I trust,” replied the worthy canon, “your lordship would not mean to insinuate that monkeys really want sense ; for, if so, I can soon, I think, convince your lordship of the contrary, by a story pretty apposite to the purpose.
“ The noble lord Almerico was one day feasting the good bishop of Vicenza, having given orders to his cook to prepare all the varieties and delicacies of the season. Now the cook was in possession of an excellent method of guarding the treasures of his kitchen ; for which purpose he kept an invaluable ape, excellently tutored to the business.
No man, not even the boldest, ventured to steal the least thing in his presence, until a certain footman, from Savignano, more greedy than horse-leech, and unable to check his thieving propensities, hit upon what he considered a safe means of eluding the monkey's observation. He began to cultivate his acquaintance by performing all kinds of amusing tricks, and bribing him to be in good humor. The moment he perceived the ape busily engaged in imitating what he saw, the rogue, binding a handkerchief over his own eyes, in a short time handed it likewise to the mimic, and with secret pleasure beheld him fastening it over his face ; during which time he contrived to lay his hands upon a fat capon, which the ape, though too late, soon afterwards perceived. The head cook upon this occasion gave his monkey
ship so severe a flogging that, being doubly cautious, the next time the thievish footman repeated the same tricks, and proceeded to bandage his eyes, the wily animal, instead of imitating him, stared around him with all his eyes, pointing at the same time to his paws, as if advising him to keep his hands from picking and stealing ; so that the rogue was, this time, compelled to depart with his hands as empty as they came. Finding that all his arts were of no avail — The archbishop, here overpowered with wonder and delight, exclaimed, “If this be only true, it is one of the most astonishing things I ever heard." The assiduous Florentine upon this again interposed in his master's behalf, crying out with singular force of gesticulation : “As I hope to be saved at the last day, please your grace, what my honored patron has just advanced is every particle of it true; and as your grace appears to take a particular pleasure in listening to strange and almost unaccountable events, I will now beg leave to add a single story in addition to those of my noble patron, however inferior in point of excellence :
“During the last vintage, I was in the service of a gentleman at Ferrara, of the name of Libanoro, who took singular pleasure in fishing, and used frequently to explore the recesses of the vale of Santo Appollinare. This master of mine had also an ape in his possession, considerably larger than your excellency's, and, while he was in the country, he commissioned me to take along with me to Ferrara this said ape, a barrel of white wine, and a fat pig; in order to present them to a certain convenient ruffian, whom he kept in his service. So I took a boat, and plying oars and sail, while we were bounding along the waters, I gave the skiff a sudden jerk, which made the pig's fat sides shake, and he went round like a turnspit, performing the strangest antics. So loud and vehement were his lamentations, that they seemed to annoy his apeship excessively, who after in vain trying to stop his ears and nose, at length seized the plug out of the barrel that stood near him, and fairly thrust it down the pig's throat, just as he was opening it to give another horrible cry. Both the wine and the pig were in extreme jeopardy, the one actually choking, and the other running all away. I tried to save as much of it as I could ; but my immoderate laughter almost prevented me, so much was I amused at his ingenious contrivance. So that your grace may perceive," continued the mendacious Floren
tine, “that my master speaks the simple truth, in asserting that these animals are possessed of great acuteness of intellect." Now, on returning home, the good canon thus addressed his servant: “I thought, sirrah, there was no man living who could tell a lie with a bolder and better face than myself; but you have undeceived me : you are the very prince of liars and impostors; the father of lies himself could not surpass you!” _“Your reverence," replied the Florentine, “need not be surprised at that, when I inform you of the advantages I have enjoyed in the society of tailors, millers, and bargemen, who live upon the profit they bring. But if from this time forth, you insist upon my persevering in confirming so many monstrous untruths as you utter, I trust that you will consent to increase my wages, in consideration of so abominable a business.” — “Well then, listen to me,” replied his master; “when it is my intention to come out with some grand and extraordinary falsehood, I will take care to tell you the evening before, and at the same time I will always give you such a gratuity as shall make it worth your while. And if I should happen to tell a good story after dinner, as you stand behind my chair, and you swear to having seen it, very innocently, you may depend upon it you shall be no loser.” This his servant agreed to do, upon condition that he would observe some bounds, and keep up some show, at least, of reason and probability ; which the honest canon said, so far as he was able, he would try to do; adding that if they were not reasonable lies, the servant should not be bound by the contract, and might return the gift.
Thus the most wonderful adventures continued to be related at the good canon's table, and what is more extraordinary, they were all very dexterously confirmed. So going on very amicably together, the canon, one evening intending to impose a monstrous lie upon one of his friends, took down a pair of old breeches, and presented them to his servant as the requisite gift. In the morning, attending his master to church as usual, he heard him, after service, relating a story to one of the holy brotherhood, who stood swallowing it all, with a very serious face, how in the island of Pastinaca the magpies are accustomed to get married in proper form and ceremony; and how, after laying, and sitting upon their eggs for the space of a month, they bring forth little men, not larger than ants, but astonishingly bold and clever. The Florentine upon this could no longer restrain his feelings, crying out before the whole company: “No, no, I cannot swear to this neither; so you may take back your breeches, master, and get somebody else in my place.”
STORIES FROM THE “HEPTAMERON."
BY MARGARET OF NAVARRE.
[MARGARET OF NAVARRE, daughter of Charles of Orleans (Duke of Angoulême) and sister of Francis I. of France, was born at Angoulême, April, 1492. In 1509 she married the Duke of Alençon, who was killed in the battle of Pavia ; and in 1627 Henri d'Albret, king of Navarre, to whom she bore a daughter, Jeanne, mother of the great French monarch, Henry IV. After the death of her second husband (1544) she assumed the direction of the kingdom of Navarre. She encouraged agriculture, the arts, and to a certain extent embraced the cause of the Reformation. The “ Heptameron," modeled on Boccaccio's "Decameron," is her chief contribution to literature. She died in Bigorre, France, in 1549. ]
A BAD GIFT TURNED TO Two GOOD ENDS.
THERE was in the household of the regent, mother of King Francis, a very devout lady, married to a gentleman of the same character. Though her husband was old, and she young and fair, nevertheless she served him and loved him as though he had been the handsomest young man in the world. To leave him no cause of uneasiness, she made it her care to live with him like a woman of his own age, shunning all company, all magnificence in dress, all dances and diversions such as women are usually fond of, and making the service of God her sole pleasure and recreation. One day her husband told her that from his youth upwards he had longed to make the journey to Jerusalem, and he asked her what she thought of the matter. She, whose only thought was how to please him, replied : “Since God has deprived us of children, my dear, and has given us wealth enough, I should be strongly inclined to spend a part of it in performing that sacred journey; for, whether you go to Jerusalem or elsewhere, I am resolved to accompany, and never forsake you.” The good man was so pleased with this reply that he fancied himself already standing on Mount
Just at this time there arrived at court a gentleman who had served long against the Turks, and who was come to obtain the king's approval for a projected enterprise against a fortress belonging to the Ottomans, the success of which was likely to be very advantageous to Christendom. The old devotee talked with him about his expedition, and learning from him that he was resolved upon it, asked him if he would be disposed, after it was accomplished, to make another journey to Jerusalem, which himself and his wife had a great desire to see. The captain, highly approving of so good a design, promised to accompany him, and to keep the thing secret. The old gentleman was impatient to see his wife, to tell her what he had done. As she had scarcely less longing than her husband to perform the journey, she talked of it often to the captain, who, paying more attention to her person than to her words, became so much in love with her that, in talking to her of the voyages he had made by sea, he often confounded the port of Marseilles with the Archipelago, and said horse when he meant to say ship, so much was he beside himself. He found her, however, of so single-minded a character that he durst not let her see that he loved her, much less tell her so in words. The fire of his passion became so violent by dint of his concealing it that it often made him ill.
The demoiselle, who regarded him as her guide, took as much care of him as of the cross, and sent to inquire after him so often that the interest she evinced for him cured the patient without the aid of physic. Several persons, who knew that the captain had always had a better reputation for valor than for devotion, were surprised at the great intercourse between him and this lady; and seeing that he had changed from white to black, that he frequented the churches, attended sermons, and performed all the devoirs of a devotee, they doubted not that he did so to ingratiate himself with the lady, and could not even help hinting as much to him. The captain, fearing lest this should come to the ears of the lady, withdrew from society, and told her husband and her, that, being on the point of receiving his orders and quitting the court, he had many things to say to them, but that, for the greater secrecy, he would only confer with them in private, to which end he begged they would send for him when they had both retired for the night.
This proposal was quite to the old gentleman's liking. After everybody had gone to rest, he used to send for the captain to talk about the journey to Jerusalem, in the course of which the good man often fell asleep devoutly. On these