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 Eighth:
Proem

THE fair-haired and luminous Apollo, the son of Jove the thunderer and of Latona, had now departed from our world, and the fireflies, having come forth from their dark and shadowy hiding-places, were flitting joyously through the dusk of night, which in every corner was over come by the sparkling light they shed around, when the Signora, having re paired with the damsels to the noble hail, gave gracious welcome to the honourable company, who had come a few minutes before to the place of meeting. And when she remarked that all those who had come to last night's gathering were now present, she gave order for the instruments to be brought in, and after they had danced somewhat, a servant fetched the golden vase. Out of this a child drew five names, the first being that of Eritrea, the second that of Cateruzza, the third that of Arianna, the fourth that of Alteria, the last place being reserved for Lauretta. But before the sprightly Eritrea was suffered to make beginning of her fable the Signora let them know it was her will that they should all five together sing a canzonet, to the music of the instruments. Where upon the damsels, with joyful faces, and looking as fair as angels, began in this fashion their singing:

SONG.

Ah, cruel ruthless fair
How often from your eyes is sped the ray
That gives me life, that takes my life away.
My flowing tears will gain for me, I ween,
If not thy mercy, yet at least thy ruth;
Nor care nor credence hast thou for my truth.
And in your face serene
I read a doom more dire to me is given;
An outcast I from Love and Death and Heaven.

The song, with its cadence so divinely soft, gave great pleasure to all who listened, but especially it commended itself to Bembo, wherefore, in order not to divulge the secret thought he cherished within his breast, he did not join in the laughter. And having turned towards the gracious Eritrea, he said: "It is now high time that you should begin the story-telling with some delightful fable of your own;" and the damsel, without waiting for any further command from the Signora with a smiling face thus began.

Next: Night the Eighth: First 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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