« ElőzőTovább »
comfort from this fear.” The young man answered, “ I can bring you news of him.
He has been shipwrecked, and lost every thing except his life.” - Well,” said Messer Ansaldo, “ Heaven be praised ; provided he lives, I care not for any thing that is lost; where is he ?” " He is at my house,” replied the young man ; and Ansaldo immediately would go to him; and as soon as he saw him, he ran to embrace him, saying, “ my son, don't be ashamed before me, for it is often the case that ships founder, therefore do not fret; for since thou hast not suffered any personal injury, I am at ease. So saying, he took him home, consoling him as much as he could on the way.
The news of Gianetto's misfortune soon got wind, and grieved all that knew him.' It happened that, a little while after this, his companions returned from Alexandria, both very rich, and on their arrival enquired for their friend Gianetto. They were no sooner told the whole circumstance, than they ran to him, and, embracing him, said, “ How camest thou to leave us, and where didst thou go ? for we never could hear any thing of thee. We sailed back to and fro, but never could see or hear where thou wast gone. Indeed we have been most melancholy on our return, for we thought thou wast dead.” Gianetto answered, “ A heavy gale arose that drove my ship into a creek, right on a rock near land, and I scarcely could save myself all was lost !” This was the excuse Gianetto gave in order to conceal his silly conduct. They both were thankful that he had escaped, and said, “ Next spring, with Heaven's blessing, we will gain as much more as thou hast lost, therefore let us be merry as usual, and give sorrow to the wind." Yet Gianetto could not help thinking how he could return to the lady, saying, “ I must have her for my wife, or die for it. With such thoughts he could not give way to mirth. Ansaldo, therefore, often said to him, “ Do not fret, we have still wherewithal to live at ease.' • Sir,” said Gianetto, “ I never can be liappy, if I do not make another voyage." Ansaldo hearing this, and that such was his anxious wish, when the time came, he provided him with a ship laden with still more property than before, insomuch that he put on board almost the whole of his possessions.
His companions, when their ships were stored, set sail in company with Gianetto: as they were sailing, Gianetto looked out with anxiety for the harbour of his lady, which was called the port of the Lady Belmonte ; and arriving one evening at the mouth of the creek, Gianetto, soon recognised it, and ordered the ship to be steered into the harbour, so that his friends did not perceive it. The lady, on rising in the morning, looking to the harbour, saw the ship, and the colours playing in the wind ; which recognising, she called her woman, and said, “Dost thou know those colours ?”—“ Madam,” said the waiting woman, “ it seems the same ship that brought that young man about a year ago, who had such riches on board.” " True," said the lady, " I believe thou art right ; and certainly this youth must be downright in love with me, for I have never seen any one return here again.” 6 I," said the maid, " never saw a more graceful or courteous fellow, than he is.” The lady sent several equerries and damsels to him, who paid him homage, and led him joyfully to the castle, and into the presence of the lady. When she saw him, she embraced him affectionate. ly, and he most respectfully saluted her. All the nobles were invited to partake of the day's pleasure, in honour of Gianetto. They all admired how well he led a dance, and the ladies were quite charmed at the elegance of his person and manners, and thought he must be the son of some great lord.
But the same thing happened again. He lost his ship and all his property, and arrived at Venice without a ducat.
In the evening he went to his friend, who was thunderstruck at sight of him. " Alas ! what does this mean ?” said he. “ My cursed ill luck,” said Gianetto, “ that I should ever have come into this country.” “ Well mayest thou curse thy ill stars,” said his friend, " for thou hast ruined poor Messer Ansaldo, who was one of the richest Christian merchants; and worst of all is the discredit.”
Gianetto remained concealed several days at his friend's house, with out knowing what to say or what to do, and was inclined to return to Florence, without letting Messer Ansaldo know it ; but after a little reflection, he bethought him he would go to him, and did so.
When Messer Ansaldo saw him, he arose, and ran to embrace him, and said, “ Welcome, my son.” Gianetto, weeping, embraced him; but when Ansaldo had heard the account, he said, “Do not repine ; as I have got thee again, I am not downhearted; there remains still enough for us to hold up, and be comfortable ; the ocean will sometimes take from the one, and give to another.” The news, however, soon spread itself in Venice, every one spoke of it, and grieved at the losses he had had, and Messer Ansaldo was compelled to sell many possessions he had, to pay the creditors who had furnished him with the goods. It happened that those companions of Gianetto returned from Alexandria very rich, and on their arrival at Venice, were informed of Gianetto's situation, and how he had lost every thing, which they very much won. dered at, saying, “ This is the strangest thing that ever was heard of." However, they went to Messer Ansaldo and Gianetto, and comforting him, said, “ Signor, do not be disheartened, we intend to go next year, and trade for you, for we are partly the cause of these your losses, since it was we who induced Gianetto to go with us in the first instance ; therefore be under no apprehension ; and whilst we have property, command it as your own.” Messer Ansaldo thanked them, and said that he had still wherewith to live well. Gianetto, meanwhile dwelling night and day on the dismal prospect and losses he had sustained, could not possibly conceal his chagrin ; the which Ansaldo perceiving, he asked him what was the matter with him ?--" I shall never be happy if I do not recover that which I have lost.” “ My son,” replied Ansaldo, “ I will not have thee go again, because it is better that we rest quietly with what little remains to us, than to run any more risks.” fully resolved,” said Gianetto, “ to do my utmost, and should be quite ashamed, and think myself dishonourable, if I did not, and remained in this situation.”
Ansaldo perceiving it was his fixed determination, prepared to sell out whatever he had remaining, and freight the youth another fine ship. As he was short of ten thousand ducats, he went to a Jew and borrowed the sum on the following conditions (having no other security to
" I am
give),: that if he did not return the sum within that mid-summer day twelvemonth, the Jew might cut off one pound of flesh from any part of his body; which the Jew accepting, Ansaldo was relieved : the Jew took care to have this agreement drawn up, and authenticated in all due form before witnesses, with all the precaution that men of business usually take in such matters ; then counted over the ten thousand ducats in gold to Messer Ansaldo, who supplied the ship with every thing that was requisite, and though the two last were beautiful, yet this was much richer than either. The two friends loaded theirs with full intention that the produce should be for Gianetto.
When the moment for their departure came, Messer Ansaldo said to Gianetto, “My son, thou art going, and thou knowest under what penalty I labour. I do pray thee, that though any misfortune should again happen to thee, that thou comest to me, and let me behold thee ere I die, then shall I rest content.” “ Messer Ansaldo,” said the youth, “I shall do every thing that will make you happy.' Ansaldo gave him his blessing; they took leave of each other, and he embarked.
The two friends narrowly watched Gianetto's ship; and he was carefully looking out for the port of Belmonte, and at last succeeded in persuading thecaptain to strike into the said harbour during the night. When the dawn appeared, the two friends looked about for Gianetto's ship, and, not seeing it, said, “ Really this poor fellow is truly unfortunate.” Not knowing how to find him out, they agreed it were safer to follow their voyage, seeing there were no hopes of meeting with him. The ship being arrived in the port, all came forth to see it, on hearing that Gianetto had returned ; and wondering very much at it, said, “ This must be the son of some great lord, if we reflect that he comes every year with such rich cargoes, and such fine ships would to Heaven he were our lord.” Thus was he courted by all the barons and knights of that land ; the lady was soon informed that Gianetto had returned ; she advanced to the window, and beheld the beautiful ship, and recognised the colours; crossing herself, she said, “ Surely this is the great man who has so enriched this country;" and she sent for him, and he went to her; they embraced and saluted each other, and the whole day was spent in joy; and to honour Gianetto a grand tilt was order. ed ; and Gianetto would also be one among them, and did wonders by the elegance and activity of his person. So far did he excel, that all the barons were most anxious that he should prove their lord. The usual time approaching, the lady said, “ I think it is fit we go to rest,” and took his hand to lead him into the room, when one of the lady's women, who was much grieved at Gianetto's mischances, whispered, at the threshold of the door, as he was following the lady, and said, “ Pretend as if you were drinking, but do not drink to-night.” Gianetto heard the whisper, and went in with the lady.
" I know," said she, “ you are thirsty, therefore, I will have you drink before you
Two beautiful creatures immediately entered, bringing wine and sweatmeats, and presented, as usual, the wine and cakes, and he said, “ How could any one abstain from drinking this wine, handed as it is by two such beautiful maidens;" which saying made the lady laugh; and Gianetto took the goblet, and pretending to drink, he let the wine drop down into his bosom. The lady, thinking he had drank it off,
go to rest.”
vaid within herrself, thou must return with another cargo, for this is lost to thee; but Gianetto went to bed, and felt himself quite wakeful, and it seemed an age before the lady came to bed ; and he kept saying to himself, by the mass I have caught you now, fair dame ; you have reckoned this time without your host : and as the lady delayed some time coming to bed, he began to snore as if asleep; therefore, she said to herself, this is all as it should be, and immediately laid herself by Gianetto.
The lady rose before morning, and sent for all the barons, knights, and citizens, to the council chamber, and said to them, “ Gianetto is your lord, therefore rejoice and make merry." This being spread abroad, nothing was heard but the general cry of “ Long live our Lord !” and the ringing of bells, and sounds of various instruments. Several barons who were absent from the castle were sent for to pay homage to their lord, and a great rejoicing took place; and Gianetto, when he came from his room, was knighted, placed in the seat of honour with the baton in his hand, and hailed as sovereign lord ; and when all the nobility were arrived at court, he was married to the lady, amidst such festivity as can scarcely be credited, for all the barons, knights, and gentry, were invited to the tilts, the sham-fights, dances, music, singing, and every thing that is usual on such extraordinary occasions. Gianetto, being a noble-spirited youth, began to bestow presents of rich silks, and other things which he had brought, and took upon himself a manly conduct; made himself obeyed, and enforced the laws towards all his subjects, and was enjoying all the pleasures and comforts, without once thinking of poor Ansaldo, who had pledged himself for ten thousand ducats to the Jew. However, being one day looking out of the window with his lady, he saw a number of persons carrying small torches, who were going with offerings in great pomp. Gianetto said to his bride, 6 Pray, lady, what means this ?” The lady replied, “ That is a procession of mechanics who are going to carry their offerings to the church of St John, this day being his festival.” This called to Gianetto's mind the case of Ansaldo. He withdrew from the window, and heaved a deep sigh, and grew quite pale, walking to and fro in the room, thinking of the circumstance. On the lady's asking him what was the matter with him, Gianetto answered, “ Nothing.' The lady then began to consider him attentively :“ Certainly,” said she, “ something ails you, and you will not own it ;" and so she coaxed him so much, that at last Gianetto related to her how Messer Ansaldo had pledged himself to the amount of ten thousand ducats; and this very day, said he, is the day fixed, and I am distracted at the thought my poor father should die on my account ; for if to. day the sum is not paid, he loses one pound of flesh cut off from his body. The lady replied, “ take horse directly, and go by land, which will be quickest, and take with you such attendants as you like, with an hundred thousand ducats, and rest not till you arrive at Venice ; and if he be not dead, do you endeavour to bring him here.” The horn was quickly blown; he mounted his steed accompanied by twenty attendants, and having taken money enough, journeyed with speed to Venice. The Jew had caused Messer Ansaldo to be arrested, and wanted to have the pound of flesh ; upon which Ansaldo entreated him to delay his death for a few days, that, in case Gianetto should come, he might see him. The Jew said, “ I am willing to grant what you ask as to the delay, but were he to come a hundred times over, I will have the pound of flesh from your body, as agreed on in the note." Ansaldo answered that he was satisfied. The news of this having spread itself through Venice, several merchants agreed to pay the money, but the Jew would not consent, being determined on his death, that he might say he had been the death of the first and greatest Christian merchant. However, it happened that when Gianetto started in great haste to come to Venice, his ladyfollowed close after him, dressed as a Judge, with two servants with her. Gianetto, when he arrived at Venice, went directly to the Jew, and embraced Messer Ansaldo ; then said to the Jew, that he wished to give him the money, and so much beside as he might require.' The Jew replied, that he would not receive the money, since it was not paid at the proper time; that he would have the pound of flesh: and here was the great question ; every one was against the Jew, but still, as Venice was considered the seat of justice, and the Jew had it plainly on his side, and in proper form, none dared to oppose him, but by entreaties ; so that all the merchants went to the Jew to beg and pray him to desist'; but as he was the more obstinate, Gianetto offered him twenty thousand, yet he would not consent ; thirty thousand were then offered--forty thousand--fifty thousand till he at last offered one hundred thousand. « Look ye, sirs," said the Jew, “ if you were to offer me as many more ducats as are to be found in Venice, I would not take them ; on the contrary, I will abide by what the agreement states." While they were thus arguing the point, the lady arrived at Venice, dressed in 'the habit of a Judge, and alighted at an inn; the landlord asked one of the attendants who the gentleman was. The servant, who had been previously instructed in what he had to say, replied, “ This is a gentleman, a Judge returning from Bologna, where he has studied the law, and is now going home.” The landlord hearing this, paid him every attention ; and, when at table, he said to the landlord ? “ What is the government of your city, landlord ?" The landlord answered, “ There is too much law, sir." " How," said the Judge. “I will tell you," replied the landlord ; “ there was a youth that came here from Florence, whose name was Gianetto; he went to his godfather, whose name is Ansaldo ; this youth was so genteel and well bred, that he became the darling of all that knew him, but never did a more unfortunate man walk this city ; three times did his godfather freight ships to a great amount, and every time he lost his all; so that at the last, wanting money, Ansaldo borrowed ten thousand ducats of a Jew, under promise that if he did not return them on St John's day, in June to come, the said Jew should have a right to take from his body one pound of flesh, wherever he might choose. Now this blessed youth is returned, and has offered one hundred thousand ducats, in. stead of the ten thousand, and the scoundrel of a Jew will not take them; all the best men in Venice have gone to entreat, but to no purpose.” The Judge said, “ But this question is easy to determine." The host said, “ If you will take the task on yourself, and end this business, so as to save the good man's life, you will acquire the friendship and love of the most noble and virtuous youth that ever was born, beside