Federigos Falcon

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There was of yore in Florence, a gallant named Federigo di Messer Filippo Alberighi, whise feats of arms and courtesy had not his peer in Tuscany. As is the common lot of gentlemen, Federigo became enamored of a lady named Monna Giovanna, who in her day held rank among the fairest and most elegant ladies of Florence; to gain whose love he jousted, tilted, gave entertainments, scattered largess, and, in short, set no bounds to his expenditure. However, the lady, no less virtuous than fair, cared not a lot for what he did for her sake, nor yet for him. Spending thus greatly beyond his means, Federigo was at length reduced to such poverty that he had nothing left but a little estate, on the rents of which he lived very straightly , and a single falcon, the best in the world. The estate was at Campi, and there, in complete seclusion, diverting himself with hawking, he bore his poverty as patiently as he might. Now, Federigo being thus reduced to extreme poverty, it so happened that one day Monna Giovanna’s husband, who was very rich, fell ill, and seeing that he was nearing his end, made his will, whereby he left his estate to his son, who was not growing up, and in the event of his death as lawful their named Monna Giovanna, whom he dearly loved, there in his stead; and having made these dispositions, he died. Monna Giovanna, being thus left a widow, did as our ladies are wont, and repaired in the summer to one of her estates in the country, which lay very near to that of federigo. And so it befell that her son began to make friends with Federigo, and to show a fondness for hawks and dogs, and having seen Federigo’s falcon fly not a few times, took singular fancy to him, and greatly longed to have him for his own. Still he did not dare to ask the hawk to Federigo, knowing that Federigo prized him so much. So the matter stood when by chance the boy fell sick. The mother, sore distressed, again and again asked him if there were ought that he wished for, imploring him to say the word, and, if it might by any means be had, she would assuredly do her utmost to procure it from him. Thus, repeatedly exhorted , the boy said, “Mother mine, do but get me Federigo’s falcon, and I doubt not I shall soon be well.” Where upon the lady was silent a while, bethinking her what she should do. She knew that Federigo had long loved her, and had never had so much as a single kind look from her. Wherefore she said to herself. “How can I send or go to beg of him his falcon, which what I hear is the best that ever flew, and moreover is his sole comfort? And how could I be so unfeeling as to seek to deprive a gentleman of the one solace that is now left him?” And so albeit she very well knew that she might have the falcon for the asking, she was perplexed, and knew not what to say, and gave her son no answer. At length, however, the love she bore the boy carried the day; and she made up her mind, for his contentment, come what might, not to send, but to go herself and fetch him the falcon. SO-“ Be of good cheer, my son”, she said, “and doubt not thou wilt soon be well; for I promise thee that the very first thing that I shall do tomorrow morning will be to go and fetch thee the falcon.” Where- at the child was so pleased that he began to mend that very day. On the morrow the lady, as if for pleasure, hid her with another lady to Federigo’s little house,and asked to see him. “Twas still, as for some days past , no weather for hawking and Federigo was in his garden, busy about some small matters which needed to be set right there. When he heard that Monna Giovanna was at the door, asking to see him, he was not a little surprised and pleased and held him to her with all speed. As soon as she saw him, she came forward to meet him womanly grace, and having received his respectful salutation, said to him, “ I am come to requite thee for what thou hast lost by loving me more than thou shouldst: which compensation is this, that I and this lady that...
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