Illustration for Facetious Nights by E. R. Hughes

The Facetious Nights

Illustration for Facetious Nights by E. R. Hughes

The Facetious Nights

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Night the Thirteenth:
Third Fable:
The Liberal German and Spaniard

A German and a Spaniard happening to sit at meat together, there arises between their servants a dispute as to which was the most liberal, which question in the end was settled in favour of the German.

THE fable just told to us by our worthy Signora brings back to my memory a certain dispute which arose from the envy kindled between the servants of a Ger man and of a Spaniard who chanced to meet at the same table, and although this fable of mine is very short, it may nevertheless be found entertaining and a source of pleasure to many.

It happened one day that a German and a Spaniard, having arrived at the same hostelry, took their meat together, being served with many delicate viands of all sorts and in great abundance. As they were thus dining the Spaniard handed to his servant now a morsel of meat and now a morsel of fowl, giving him to eat now this thing and now that. The German, on the other hand, went on eating silently, swallowing one thing after another without thinking in any way of his servant. On this account there arose between the servants a feeling of great jealousy, the servant of the German declaring that the Spaniards were the most liberal and regardful of men, and the servant of the Spaniard confirming what he said. But after the German had finished his meal, he took the dish with all the meat that was therein, and, handing it to his servant, he bade him take his supper thereof. Whereupon the servant of the Spaniard, being filled with envy at the good luck of his companion, recalled the opinion he had just given, and murmuring to himself spake these words: 'Now I know well that the Germans are liberal beyond all other men.

This fable teaches us that no one is ever contented with his own lot. Messer Pietro Bembo without any farther delay set his enigma in the following words:

I dwell in such a lofty spot
That soaring wings can reach me not;
Much help I give to feeble sight,
Working alone by wisdom's might.
I high exalt the soul serene,
But never let my light be seen
By those who claim too much of me.
Oft am I made appear to be
What I am not, just through the deed
Of things that neither know nor heed.

"This enigma," said Messer Pietro, simply describes the science of astrology, which must needs be prosecuted in some lofty spot, up to which one could not fly even with wings." As soon as he had finished the exposition of his subtly devised riddle, the Signora Veronica rose to her feet and in this wise began her fable, speaking thus.

Next: Night the Thirteenth: Fourth Fable

Straparola, Giovanni Francesco. The Facetious Nights by Straparola. W. G. Waters, translator. Jules Garnier and E. R. Hughes, illustrators. London: Privately Printed for Members of the Society of Bibliophiles, 1901. 4 volumes.

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