The Merchant of Venice by Anonymous

There was at Florence, of the family of the Seali, a merchant whose name was Biondo, who had been several times to Alexandria and other parts of Egypt, and all those long voyages which merchants generally take with their cargoes. This Biondo was very rich, and had three sons, and being on his death bed, called his eldest and his second son, and made his will in their presence, leaving those two heirs to all he possessed, but left nothing to the youngest. The will being made, the younger, whose name was Gianetto, went to his father, who lay in his bed, and said, "my dear father, I wonder much at what you have done, and at your not remembering me in your will." His father answered, "my dear boy, there is no one of you I love more than yourself, for this reason I do not wish you to remain here; on the contrary, I intend you, when I am dead, to go to Venice, to a godfather of yours, whose name is Messer Ansaldo, who has not any children, and has often written to me to desire me to send you to him; and I can tell you, he is one of the richest merchants among the Christians there. I therefore desire, as soon as I am laid low, that you will go to him, and present him with this letter, and be sure, if you conduct yourself with propriety, you will become a rich man." The son answered, "father, I am ready to obey you," upon which his father gave him his blessing, and after a few days died. His sons lamented much his death, and paid due honors to his memory. After a few days, the two eldest brothers called Gianetto, and thus addressed him:—"brother, it is true our father made his will, left us his heirs, and made no mention whatever of thee, yet thou art, nevertheless, our brother, and what belongs to us is equally thine."

"Brothers," answered Gianetto, "I thank you for your offer; but for my part I have made up my mind to try my fortune elsewhere, and have so fixed; therefore do you keep the property, and heaven prosper you with it." The brothers seeing him bent on his purpose, gave him a horse and cash to bear all his expenses. Gianetto took leave of them, and went to Venice, found Messer Ansaldo's counting-house, and delivered him the letter his father had given him. On reading the letter, Ansaldo found that the bearer was the son of his worthy and beloved Biondo, and embraced him most affectionately, saying, "welcome, my god-child, whom I have so long wished to see," then he asked him about his father; upon which Gianetto answered, he was dead. Ansaldo shed tears; embraced him again, and said, "much am I grieved at the death of Biondo, for greatly did he contribute to the gains I have made in trade; but such is the joy I feel in having thee, my boy, with me, that it greatly alleviates my sorrow," He ordered him to be taken to his house, and commanded all his household to obey, and wait on Gianetto, as they would even upon himself. He gave him the key of the bureau, and said, "my son! do thou dispose of the money as thou shalt think meet; clothe thyself as thou thinkest most becoming; keep open house for all such gentlemen as thou shalt think proper, and make thyself known. I leave such things entirely to thy care, and the more thou wilt make thyself known and beloved, the more happy shall I feel." Gianetto, therefore, began to be acquainted with the noble youths in Venice, and to give sumptuous dinners; assisted and clothed several families; bought fine horses; entered the ring, and revelled as one used and well practised in the style of a gentleman. He was never remiss in paying due honour where it was required, and more particularly to Messer Ansaldo, whom he treated as his real father; and so well did he conduct himself towards persons of every rank, that he became endeared even to the lower classes in Venice. Seeing how gracious, courtly, and affable he was, both ladies and gentlemen were delighted with him, his manners were so pleasing. Messer Ansaldo thought but of him; nor were there any parties, sports, or festivals in Venice, but Gianetto was sure to be invited, so much was he beloved. Two friends of his, at that time, wished to go to Alexandria with their cargoes in two ships, as they were wont to do every year, and told Gianetto of it saying, "you ought to take this voyage with us, and see the world; particularly, you should see Damascus, and various countries beyond."

"Indeed, I should delight in it," replied Gianetto, "if my godfather Ansaldo would permit me."

"We will contrive," said one of them, "that he shall," and they both went to him, saying, "Messer Ansaldo, we are about to entreat you to allow Gianetto to go with us next spring on our voyage to Alexandria, to freight him a ship, and suffer him to see a little of the world."

"Well," said Ansaldo, "I am willing, if he wishes it."

"Sir," said they, "he is most anxious to do so." Messer Ansaldo, in pursuance of this scheme, ordered a beautiful vessel to be got ready, loaded with the finest goods, and decorated in the best possible style. When all was provided, Ansaldo desired the captain and the crew to obey Gianetto in every thing; "he should command, because I do not send him for the purpose of gain, but solely that he may see the world, and enjoy himself." When Gianetto was ready to embark, all Venice came in throngs to the shore, for it was many years since a ship was seen so well and so finely fitted out for sea. His departure grieved all that knew him; however, he took leave of Messer Ansaldo and his friends, and cheerfully sailed towards Alexandria.

These three friends were each in his ship, and sailing along one morning before day-light, when Gianetto espied a gulf, with a beautiful harbour, and asked the captain the name of it, to which he made answer, and said, "that place belongs to a noble widow who has been the cause of the ruin of many gentlemen."

"How?" said Gianetto; "Sir," said the captain, "this is a most beautiful, and enchanting lady, who has established as a law in her domains, that whoever lands there must lay with her, and if he can pass the night without sleep, he is at liberty to marry her, and then becomes master of the harbour, and all the estate; whereas, if he do not, he loses his cargo and every thing he has brought with him." Gianetto paused awhile, then said, "you must manage how you can, but sail into that harbour."

"Sir," said the captain, "think well on what you are saying, for many a gentleman has gone there who has been driven away pennyless."

"Do not concern yourself about that, but do as I desire you," said Gianetto. Of course the thing was done, and on they sailed, without their companions noticing the course they had taken.

On the morning the news was spread that this fine ship had reached the harbour, so that all the people came to see it: the lady was soon informed of it, and sent for Gianetto, who immediately presented himself respectfully to her. The lady took him by the hand, asked him who he was, whence he came, and whether he knew the usage of the place? Gianetto answered he did, and only came there in consequence of this knowledge. A thousand times welcome, said the virtuous lady, and honoured and entertained him nobly, sending for the barons, counts, and knights, to welcome and amuse him. Gianetto's manners delighted all around him, and the day was spent in dancing, singing, and festivity, by the court, in honour of Gianetto, and one and all would have been pleased to have him for their lord. Evening coming on, the lady took him by the hand, and led him into an apartment, saying, "methinks it seems time to withdraw."

"Madam," said Gianetto, "I am at your commands." Two young damsels came, the one bringing wine in her hand, and the other some sweetmeats. "I know," said the lady, "you must be thirsty, therefore drink." Gianetto took some of the sweetmeats, and drank some of the wine, which had been prepared as a sleeping draught, but he knew it not. He drank half a goblet, for it seemed very pleasant to him; and then he soon undressed himself and went to bed; no sooner had he laid down, than he fell asleep; the lady laid herself down by the side of the youth, who never woke till the next morning about three o'clock.

The lady got up as soon as it was daylight, and ordered the ship to be unladen, which she found contained a store of rich and good wares. It being now past three, the lady's maid went into Gianetto's room, and made him rise, and told him he might depart, for that he had lost the ship, and all it contained; upon this he felt quite ashamed, and he thought he had certainly acted wrong. The lady ordered a horse and money to be given to him, and dismissed him, and he departed overwhelmed with sorrow. He arrived at Venice, but being ashamed, he would not go home, but in the evening went to a friend, who wondering, said, "alas, Gianetto, what means this?"—"My ship," said he, "dashed in the night against a rock, and went to pieces; all was lost; some saved themselves as well as they could; I caught fast hold of a plank that brought me on shore, and have come home by land, and here I am." Gianetto remained several days with his friend, who sometime after paid a visit to Messer Ansaldo, whom he found quite disconsolate. Ansaldo said, "I am in great apprehension that this son of mine is dead, or ill from the voyage; the love I bear him is such, that I have no peace or 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 live, 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 earnest 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 happy 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 recognized 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."

"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 affectionately, 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 mayst 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, without 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, but 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 wondered 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."

"I am 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 give): that if he did not return the money within that midsummer-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 masters; 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 the captain 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 ordered; 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 go to rest." Two beautiful creatures immediately entered, bringing wine and sweetmeats, 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, said within herself, 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 lady, 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, the lady said to herself, this is all as it should be, and immediately undressed, and laid herself down by Gianetto, who, the moment she was under cover, shewed he was awake, and thus he remained the whole night. 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, "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 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 the quickest, and take with you such attendants as you like, with a 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 lady followed 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 at last he was 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 a 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, instead 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 bom, beside the blessing of all the people in this city." The feigned judge ordered it to be posted up through Venice, that if any critical and extraordinary law-case should occur, that they might come to him and he would make out a clear case. The news of this being carried to Gianetto, that there had arrived a judge from Bologna, who would determine any law question, Gianetto called on the Jew, and said to him, "let us go to this said judge." "Well," said the Jew, "let us go; but whatever he or any one may say or do, I will abide by the written agreement." When they came to the judge, Gianetto did not recognise him, but she knew him well. Gianetto and the Jew both related their own story; the judge, after reading the agreement, said to the Jew, "I advise you to take the offered hundred thousand ducats, and let this good man free, who will ever feel indebted to you:" to which the Jew answered, "no, not I, I will do no such a thing." "That is the best thing you can do." "No! no!" replied the Jew, "I'll do no such thing." Upon this they all went to the court, where such matters were brought to issue. The feigned judge taking upon himself the defence of Ansaldo, said, "order Ansaldo to come into court," which being done, the judge said, "do thou take now one pound of flesh from him, where thou wilt, and go thy ways;" upon which the Jew ordered him to be stripped; took a razor in his hand, which he had brought for the purpose, when Messer Gianetto turned to the judge and said, "this, sir, was not what I entreated you would do for me." "Make yourself easy," said the judge, "he has not yet cutoff the pound of flesh." In the meanwhile the Jew was eying Ansaldo all over to see where he should cut. "Mind what you are about," said the judge, "for, should you take more or less than one pound, I'll have you hanged. I tell thee, Jew, if thou spillest one single drop of blood thou shalt die, for thy agreement does not mention thou art to shed one drop of blood; moreover, it states thou art to take one pound of flesh, neither more nor less; therefore, if thou art wise, beware what thou dost," and he immediately sent for the executioner, ordered the handcuffs and fetters to be brought to him, saying, "if I see one single drop of blood fall, thy head shall be severed from thy body." The Jew then began to quake, and Gianetto to leap with joy; but, after some contention, the Jew said, "your worship has outwitted me, therefore let me have the hundred thousand ducats, and I will be satisfied."

"No," said the judge,

"I will have thee take the pound of flesh, as the paper states, for I will not give thee a stiver; thou shouldst have taken them when they were offered to thee."

The Jew then said, "ninety thousand;" then, "eighty thousand;" but still the judge was inflexible. "Let us give him what he asks," said Gianetto, "provided he let him free."

"Let me alone," said the judge. The Jew then said, "give me fifty thousand."

"I would not give thee a brass farthing," said the judge. "Well then," said the Jew, "give me my ten thousand ducats, and a curse be with you all."

"Hast thou not heard me," said the judge, "I will not give thee a doit; take thou the pound of flesh if thou wilt, if thou wilt not, I'll make thee cancel the writing." All present were overjoyed, and laughed at the Jew, in seeing the biter so completely bit.

The Jew, finding he could not compass his malicious intent, took the papers, and, being desperately enraged, tore them to bits, and threw them on the ground. Thus was Messer Ansaldo liberated and conducted home by Gianetto; who immediately taking the one hundred thousand ducats, went to the judge, and found him in his room ready to go home again; upon which Messer Gianetto said to him, "sir, you have rendered me the greatest service, and done me the greatest kindness; therefore, I request you to take this money along with you, for you have well earned it."

"I thank you kindly, Messer Gianetto," said the judge, "but I am not the least in want of it; take it back with you, that your wife may not say you have made a hard bargain."

"Upon my faith," said Gianetto, "if I were to spend four times as much, she is so noble-minded, kind, and generous, she would not in the least be displeased, for she wished me to offer more, if needful."

"How do you feel towards her?" said the judge. "There is not a woman on earth I could love so much, she is so chaste, and as beautiful as nature could possibly make her, and if you will oblige us so far, you will come and see her. You will be charmed with her, and the great politeness she will shew you, and you will then judge whether what I say is true or not."

"As to coming with you I cannot, for I have other things to attend to, but since you say she is so benevolent, when you see her present my best respects to her."

"I will," said Gianetto, "but I wish you to take some of this money;" and while he was speaking the judge perceived a ring on his finger, and said, "I wish to have that ring, nor will I have any thing else from you." Gianetto answered, "I am agreeable to it, yet I give it you somewhat unwillingly, because it is the gift of my wife, and she desired I would always wear it for her sake, and should she notice I have it not, she will think I gave it to some woman I am in love with, and I love her more than myself."

"I think," replied the judge, "that if she loves you so truly, she will readily believe you, when you tell her you gave it to me; but, perhaps, you yourself wish to give it away to some favourite lady in Venice."

"The love I bear her," said Gianetto, "is such, that there is not the woman created that I would prefer to her, so good, so beautiful is she," and so saying, he took the ring from his finger and presented it to the judge, embracing him. "I entreat you," said the latter, "to do me a favor."

"Mention it, I pray you," said Gianetto. "Do not stay here, but return soon to your lady."

"Indeed," said Gianetto, "it seems to me an age since I have seen her;" and thereupon they parted. The judge stept into the gondola, and went in peace. Gianetto treated all his acquaintance, made them presents, and kept open house; then took leave of all his Venetian connexions, taking with him Messer Ansaldo, and many of his former friends, and set off for Belmonte. Most of those of both sexes he left behind, grieved much at his departure, so nobly had he behaved while with them. Now it happened that the lady had arrived several days previous, and had ordered great preparations to be made. The houses were all hung with tapestry; several companies of armed troops were posted here and there, and when Messer Gianetto and Ansaldo arrived, all the knights and barons, with the rest of the court, went to meet him, crying out, "long live our worthy lord!" and when he reached Belmonte, the lady embraced Ansaldo, and shammed a little coolness towards Gianetto, whom still she loved so dearly. Great rejoicings took place; tilting, sham fights, dancing, music, and singing among the ladies and damsels that were present. Gianetto seeing his lady did not look so kindly towards him as she was wont to do, went into his own room and sent for her. "What is the matter with you?" said he. "There is no occasion for this outward show of tenderness," said the lady, "for I know you have found out your old favourite lady." Gianetto began to exculpate himself. The lady said, "where is the ring I gave you?"

"Well," said Gianetto, "what I anticipated is come to pass; I said, I was sure you would be displeased, but I solemnly swear to you, by all that is sacred, that I gave the ring to the judge that extricated Ansaldo from his difficulties."

"And I swear," said she, "by all that I hold most dear, that thou hast given it to a woman. I know it well, and thou oughtest to be ashamed to perjure thyself thus."

"May I die this moment," said Gianetto, "if I do not tell thee true; and, besides, I told the judge how it would turn out."

"Thou might have stayed where thou wert, and have sent Ansaldo here by himself, and enjoyed thyself, among thy damsels, for I hear they all wept at thy departure." Messer Gianetto began to be greatly distressed, and could not refrain from tears, saying, "thou swearest what is not true, and what could not be." The lady, however, seeing he was in great agitation, and quite miserable, it went to her heart, and she ran to embrace him, laughing immoderately, and showing him the ring, and repeated to him every thing he had said to the judge, and how she herself had acted the part of the judge, and in what manner he had given him the ring. Gianetto marvelled at this account, but seeing it was all true, he began to feel relieved, and extremely pleased, and going out of the room, related the story to some of his friends, and the adventure increased their mutual affection, and thus they lived happily together, surrounded by friends, and not forgetting to pay all kind attention to Ansaldo.