There is A Skeleton in Every House

by Anonymous

There was at Naples a lady of the name of Corsina, bom at Capovana, and wife of a noble cavalier, whose name was Messer Ramondo del Balzo. It happened after some years that heaven was pleased to deprive this lady of her husband, and she was left a widow, with an only son, whose name was Carlo. This youth possessing all the excellent qualities and endowments of his father, became the mother's idol and only care. She bethought herself that it would be greatly to his advantage to send him to Bologna, to pursue his studies, in order that he might hereafter become a great man. Having made up his mind to this, she gave him a tutor, provided him with books, and every thing that would make him comfortable, and sent him away with a tender mother's blessing. There, for several years, she maintained him with every comfort he could wish. The youth, having every advantage, improved greatly, and became an excellent scholar, and by his gentleman-like manners, correct conduct, and great talents, had gained the affection of all his fellow collegians. It happened, that having become, after some years, a doctor in law, and being nearly on the eve of his return to Naples, he was taken seriously ill, whereupon all the best physicians of Bologna anxiously endeavoured to save his life, but had no hopes of success. Carlo, perceiving he was a lost man, said to himself, I do not care so much for myself, as for my poor, dear mother, who will no longer have a son, for whom she has sacrificed her all, and whom she expected would become her consolation, who might form some great alliance, and thereby restore our family name. Now if she hears I am dead, and has not the comfort of seeing me once again, she will assuredly die with excessive grief. This reflection, more than the loss of his own life, overwhelmed him with sorrow, and the thought continuing uppermost in his mind, suggested the idea to him of contriving some means to prevent his mother from being overpowered by her grief; he therefore immediately wrote to her in the following words:—"My dearest mother, I do entreat that you would be kind enough to get me a shirt made by the most beautiful and the most happy lady you can find in Naples, she who is most free from the cares or sorrows of this world." The letter being dispatched, and coming to hand, the mother immediately considered of the means of satisfying this request, and how she could find one; she enquired among all her acquaintances where she could meet such an unconcerned, and indifferent, and easy-minded woman; but the task was arduous, yet she was determined to do her son's will. The lady, however, searched to such effect, that she at last found one, who appeared so cheerful, so beautiful, and so happy, and so unconcerned, that she seemed incapable of feeling a single unpleasant thought. Madame Corsina, fancying she had found the very person she was in search of, went to the lady, who received her very politely. Madame Corsina said to her, "can you guess what I am come for? it is because looking upon you as the most cheerful lady in Naples, and the freest from painful thoughts or troubles; I wish to ask you a very great favour, that is, that you would make a shirt for me with your own hands, that I may send it to my son, who has earnestly entreated me to get it made by such a one as yourself." The young lady answered, "you say you consider me the most cheerful young woman in Naples."

"Yes," said Madame Corsina. "Now," added the lady, "I will prove to you it is quite the reverse, and that there never was born, perhaps, a more unfortunate woman than myself, or who has more sorrows and heavy afflictions, and that you may be convinced of this," said she, "come with me;" and, taking her hand, she led her into an inner chamber, where, drawing aside a curtain, she pointed to a skeleton which was hanging from a beam: upon which Madame Corsina exclaimed, "Oh, heavens! what means this?" The young lady mournfully sighed, then said, "This was a most worthy youth, who was in love with me; my husband finding him here, caused him directly to be hung as you see; and, to increase my agonies, he compels me to come and see the unfortunate youth every night and morning; think what must be my anguish at being obliged to see him thus daily; yet, if you wish it, I will do that you desire; but, as to being the most cheerful, unconcerned, and happy person, I am, on the contrary, the most wretched woman that ever was on earth." The dame remained in perfect astonishment, and said, "well, I see clearly that no one is free from troubles and calamities, and that those that consider me the most cheerful young woman in Naples."

"Yes," said Madame Corsina. "Now," added the lady, "I will prove to you it is quite the reverse, and that there never was bom, perhaps, a more unfortunate woman than myself, or who has more sorrows and heavy afflictions, and that you may be convinced of this," said she, "come with me;" and, taking her hand, she led her into an inner chamber, where, drawing aside a curtain, she pointed to a skeleton which was hanging from abeam: upon which Madame Corsina exclaimed, "Oh, heavens! what means this?"

The young lady mournfully sighed, then said, "This was a most worthy youth, who was in love with me; my husband finding him here, caused him directly to be hung as you see; and, to increase my agonies, he compels me to come and see the unfortunate youth every night and morning; think what must be my anguish at being obliged to see him thus daily; yet, if you wish it, I will do that you desire; but, as to being the most cheerful, unconcerned, and happy person, I am, on the contrary, the most wretched woman that ever was on earth." The dame remained in perfect astonishment, and said, "well, I see clearly that no one is free from troubles and calamities, and that those that appear the most happy to us, are often the most wretched." She therefore took leave of the lady, returned home, and wrote to her son, that he must excuse her if she could not send the shirt, for she could not find a single individual who was free from troubles and sorrows. After a few days a letter arrived, stating that her son was dead; she, therefore, wisely thought to herself, that as she clearly saw no one was ever free from misfortunes and tribulations, even the very best of women; she would therefore take comfort, more especially, as she perceived she was not the only one, and thereby quieted her mind, and lived more happily by her submission to the decree of heaven.