« AnteriorContinuar »
happened one morning early, that Giannetto saw a gulph, with a fine port, and asked the captain how the port was called ? He replied, That place belongs to a widow lady, who has ruined many gentlemen. In what manner? says Giannetto. He answered, This lady is a fine and beautiful woman, and has made a law, that whoever arrives here is obliged to go to bed with her, and if he can have the enjoyment of her, he must take her for his wife, and be lord of all the country; but if he cannot enjoy her, he loses every thing he has brought with him. Giannetto, after a little reflection, tells the captain to get into the port. He was obeyed; and in an intant they slide into the port so easily, that the other ships perceived nothing.
The lady was foon informed of it, and sent for Giannetto, who waited on her immediately. She, taking him by the hand, asked him who he was? whence he came? and if he knew the custom of the country? He answered, That the knowledge of that custom was his only reason for coming. The lady paid him great honours, and sent for barons, counts, and knights in great number, who were her subjects, to keep Giannetto company. These nobles were highly delighted with the good breeding and manners of Giannetto; and all would have rejoiced to have him for their lord.
The night being come, the lady said, it seems to be time to go to bed. Giannetto told the lady, he was entirely devoted to her service; and immediately two damsels enter with wine and sweet meats. The lady entreats him to taste the wine: he takes the sweet meats, and drinks some of the wine, which was prepared with ingredients to cause neep. He then goes into the bed, where he instantly falls asleep, and never wakes till late in the morning; but the lady role with the sun, and gave orders to unload the vessel, which The found full of rich merchandize. After nine o'clock, the women servants go to the bcdfide, order Giannetto to rise and begone, for he had lost the ship. The lady gave him a horse and money, and he leaves the place very melancholy, and goes to Venice. When he arrives, he dares not return home for shame; but at night goes to the house of a friend, who is surprised to see him, and enquires of him the cause of his return? He answers, his ship had struck on a rock in
the night, and was broke in pieces.
This friend, going one day to make a visit to Ansaldo, found him very disconfolate. I fear, says Anfaldo, so much, that this fun of mine is dead, that I have no reft. His friend told him, that he had been fhipwreckt, and had lok his all, but that he himself was fafe. Ansaldo instantly gets up, and runs to find him. My dear fon, says he, you need not fear my displeasure; it is a common accident; trouble yourself no further. He takes him home, all the way telling him to be chearful and easy.
The news was foon known all over Venice, and every one was concerned for Giannetto. Some time after, his companions arriving from Alexandria very rich, demanded what was become of their friend, and having heard the ftory, ran to fee him, and rejoiced with him for his fafe:y; telling him that next spring he might gain as much as he had lost the last. But Giannetto had no other thoughts than of his return to the lady; and was resolved to marry her, or die. Ansaldo told him frequently, not to be cast down. Giannetto said, he fhould never be happy, till he was at Liberty to make another voyage. Ansaldo provided another fhip of more value than the firft. He again entered the port of Belmonte, end the lady looking on the port from her bedchamber, and seeing the ship, asked her maid, if the knew the streamers? the maid said, it was the fhip of the young man who arrived the laft year. You are in the right, answered the lady; he must surely have a great regard for me, for never any one came a second time: the maid said, the bad never seen a more agreeable man. He went to the caftle, and presented himself to the lady; who, as foon as fhe saw him, embraced him, and the day was passed in joy and revels. Bed-time being come, the lady entreated bin to go to rest : when they were feated in the chamber, the two damsels enter with wine and sweet-meats; and having eat and drank of them, they go to bed, and immediately Giannetto falls asleep, the lady undressed, and lay down big his fide; but he waked not the whole night. In the morning, the lady rises, and gives orders to Atrip the ship. He has a horse and money given to him, and away he goes, and never stops till he gets to Venice; and at night goes
to the fame friend, who with astonishment asked him, what was the matter? I am undone, says Giannetto. His friend answered, You are the cause of the ruin of Ansaldo, snd your fame ought to be greater than the loss you have Tuffered. Giannetto lived privately many days. At laft be took a resolution of seeing Ansaldo, who rose from his chair, and running to embrace him, told him he was wel. come: Giannetto with tears r-turned his embraces. Anfaldo, heard his tale : Do not grieve, my dear son, says he, we have ftill enough: the sea enriches fome men, others it Tuins.
Poor Giannetto's head was day and night fall of the thoughts of his bad fuccess. When Ansaldo enquired what was the matter, he confeffed, he could never be contented till he should be in a condition to regain all that he loft. When Ansaldo found him refolved, he began to sell every thing he had, to furnish this other fine fhip with merchandize : but, as he wanted still ten thousand ducats, he applied himself to a Jew at Meliri, and borrowed them on condition, that if they were not paid on the feaft of St. John in the next month of June, that the Jew might take a pound of flesh from any part of his body he pleased. AnIaldo agreed, and the Jew had an obligation drawn, and witnessed, with all the form and ceremony neceffary: and then counted him the ten thoufand ducats of gold; with which Ansaldo bought what was still wanting for the vessel. This laft fhip was finer and better freighted than the other two, and his companions made ready for the voyage, with a design that whatever they gained should be for their friend. When it was time to depart, Ansaldo told Giannetto, obat kince he well knew of the obligation to the Jew, he entreated, that if any misfortune happened, he would return to Venice, that he might fee him before he died; and then he could leave the world with satisfaction : Giannetto promised to do every thing that he conceived might give him pleasure. Ansaldo gave him his blefling, they took their leave, and the ships set out.
Giannetto had nothing in his head but to steal into Belo monte; and he prevailed with one of the sailors in the night to fail the veffel into the port. It was told the lady, that
Giannetto was arrived in port. She saw from the window the vessel, and immediately sent for him.
Giannetto goes to the caitle, the day is spent in joy and feasting; and to honour him, a tournament is ordered, and many barons and knights tilted that day. Gianneito did wonders, so well did he understand the lance, and was so graceful a figure on horseback: he pleased so much, that all were defirous to have him for their lord.
The lady, when it was the usual time, catching him by the hand, begged him to take his rest. When he passed the door of the chamber, one of the damsels in a whisper said to him, Make a pretence to drink the liquor, but touch not one drop. The lady said, I know you must be thirsty, I must have you drink before you go to bed : immediately two damsels entered the room, and presented the wine. Who can refuse wine from such beautiful hands ? cries Giannetto: at which the lady smiled. Giannetto takes the cup, and making as if he had drank, pours the wine into his bosom. The lady thinking he had drank, says afide to herself with great joy, You must go, young man, and bring another ship, for this is condemned. Giannetto went to bed, and began to snore as if he slept soundly. The lady perceiving this, laid herself down by his fide. Giannetto loses no time, but turning to the lady, embraces her, saying, Now am I in poffeffion of my utmost wishes. When Giannetto came out of his chamber, he was knighted, and placed in the chair of state; had the scepter put into his hand, and was proclaimed sovereign of the country, with great pomp and splendour; and when the lords and ladies were come to the castle, he married the lady in great ceremony.
Giannetto governed excellently, and caused justice to be administered impartially. He continued some time in this happy state, and never entertained a thought of poor Ansaldo, who had given his bond to the Jew for ten thousand ducats. But one day, as he stood at the window of the palace with his bride, he saw a number of people pass along the piazza, with lighted torches in their hands. What is the meaning of this? says he. The lady answered, They are artificers going to make their offerings at the church of St. John, this day being his festival. Giannetto instantly recollected Ansaldo, gave a great figh, and turned pale.
His lady enquired the cause of his sudden change. He said, he felt nothing. She continued to preis with great earneftness, till he was obliged to confess the cause of his uneafiness, that Ansaldo was engaged for the money, that the term was expired; and the grief he was in was left his father fould lose his life for him : that if the ten thousand ducats were not paid that day, he must lose a pound of his flesh. The lady told him to mount on horseback, and go by land the nearest way, to take some attendants, and an hundred thousand ducats; and not to stop, till he arrived at Venice: and if he was not dead, to endeavour to bring Ansaldo to her. Giannetto takes horse with twenty attendants, and makes the best of his way to Venice,
The time being expired, the Jew had seized Ansaldo, and infifted on having a pound of his flesh. He entreated him only to wait fome days, that if his dear Giannetto arrived, he might have the pleasure of embracing him: the Jew replied he was willing to wait, but, says he, I will cut off the pound of flesh, according to the words of the obligation : Ansaldo answered, that he was content
Several merchants would have jointly paid the money; the Jew would not hearken to the proposal, but insisted that he might have the satisfaction of saying, that he had put to death the greatest of the Chriftian merchants. Ciannetto making all possible haste to Venice, his lady soon followed him in a lawyer's habit, with two servants at:ending her, Giannetto, when he came to Venice, goes to the Jew, and (after embracing Ansaldo) tells him, he is ready to pay the money, and as much more as he should demand. The Jew said, he would take no money, since it was not paid at the time due ; but that he would have the pound of flesh. Every one blamed the Jew: but as Venice was a place where jultice was ftri&tly administered, and the Jew had his pretenfions grounded on public and received forms, their only resource was entreaty: and when the merchants of Venice applied to him, he was inflexible. Giannetto offered him twenty thousand, then thirty thousand, afterwards forty, fifty, and at laft an hundred thousand ducats. The Jew told him, if he would give him as much gold as Venice was worth, he would not accept it; says he, you know little of