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I shall entirely acquiesce, knowing myself to be meaner than the mean. est of the people, and that I was altogether unworthy of that dignity to which your favour was pleased to advance me.”
Tbis was very agreeable to the prince, seeing that she was no way elevated with the honour he had conferred upon her. Afterwards, having often told her, in general terms, that his subjects could not bear with the daughter that was born of her, he sent one of his servants, whom he had instructed what to do, who, with a very sorrowful countenance, said to her, “Madam, I must either lose my own life, or obey my lord's com. mands; now he has ordered me to take your daughter, and"—without saying anything more. She, hearing these words, and noting the fellow's looks, remembering also what she had heard before from her lord, concluded that he had orders to destroy the child. So she took it out of the cradle, kissed it, and gave it her blessing; when, without changing countenance, though her heart throbbed with maternal affection, she tenderly laid it in the servant's arms, and said, “ Take it, and do what thy lord and mine has commanded; but prythee leave it not to be devoured by the fowls, or wild beasts, unless that be his will." Taking the child, he acquainted the prince with what she said, who was greatly surprised at her constancy, and he sent the same person with it to a relation at Bologna, desiring her, without revealing whose child it was, to see it carefully brought up and educated. Afterwards the lady became with child a second time, and was delivered of a son, at which he was extremely pleased. But, not satisfied with what he had already done, he began to grieve and persecute her still more; saying one day to her, seemingly much out of temper, “Since thou hast brought me this son, I am able to live no longer with my people ; for they mutiny to that degree, that, unless I would run the risk of being driven out of my dominions, I must be obliged to dispose of this child as I did the other; and then to send thee away, in order to take a wife more suitable to me." She heard this with a great deal of resignation, making only this reply: " My lord, study only your own ense and happiness, without the least care for me; for nothing is agreeable to me but what is pleasing to yourself.” Not many days after, he sent for the son in the same manner as he had done for the daughter; and, seeming also as if he had procured him to be destroyed, had him conveyed to Bologna, to be taken care of with the daughter. This she bore with the same resolution as before, at which the prince
wondered greatly, declaring to himself, that no other woman was capable of doing the like. And, were it not that he had observed her extremely fond of her children, whilst that was agreeable to him, he should have thought it want of affection in her; but he saw it was only her entire obedience and condescension. The people, imagining the children were both put to death, blamed him to the last degree, thinking him the most cruel and worst of men, and showing great compassion for the lady; who, whenever she was in company with the ladies of her acquaintance, and they condoled with her for her loss, she would only say, “ It was not my will, but his who begot them.” But more years being now passed, and he resolving to make the last trial of her patience, declared, before many people, that he could no longer bear to keep Griseldà as his wife, owning that he had done very foolishly and like a young man in marrying her, and that he meant to solicit the pope for a dispensation to take another, and send her away; for which he was much blamed by many worthy persons ; but he said nothing in return, only that it should be so.
that it should be so. She, hearing this, and expecting to go home to her father, and possibly tend the cattle as she had done before, whilst she saw some other lady possessed of him whom she dearly loved and honoured, was perhaps secretly grieved; but, as she had withstood other strokes of fortune, so she determined resolutely to do now. Soon afterwards Gualtieri had counterfeit letters come to him, as from Rome, acquainting all his people that his holiness thereby dispensed with his marrying another, and turning away Griselda : he had her brought before them, when he said, “Woman, by the pope's leave I may dispose of thee, and take another wife. As my ancestors, then, have been all sovereign princes of this country, and thine only peasants, I intend to keep thee no longer, but to send thee back to thy father's cottage, with the same portion that thou broughtest me, and afterwards to make choice of one more suitable in quality to myself.” It was with the utmost difficulty she could now refrain from tears; and she replied, “My lord, I was always sensible that my servile condition would no way accord with your high rank and descent. For what I have been I own myself indebted to Providence and you; I considered it as a favour lent me: you are now pleased to demand it back; I therefore willingly restore it. Behold the ring with which you espoused me; I deliver it to you. You bid me take the dowry back which I brought you: you will have no need for a teller to count it, nor I for a purse to put it in, much less a sumpter-horse to carry it away; for I have not forgotten that you took me naked : and if you think it decent to expose that body, which has borne you two children, in that manner, I am contented; but I would entreat you, as a recompense
virginity, which I brought you and do not carry away, that you would please to let me have one shift over and above my dowry." He, though ready to weep, yet put on a stern countenance, and said, “Thou shalt have one only then." And, notwithstanding the people all desired that she might have an old gown, to keep her body from shame who had been his wife thirteen years and upwards, yet it was all in vain ; so she left his palace in that manner, and returned weeping to her father's, to the great grief of all who saw her. The poor man, never supposing that the prince would keep her long as his wife, and expecting this thing to happen every day, had safely laid up the garments of which she had been despoiled the day he espoused her. He now brought them to her, and she put them on, and went as usual about her father's little household affairs, bearing this fierce trial of adverse fortune with the greatest courage imaginable. The prince then
gave it out that he was to espouse a daughter to one of the counts of Panago; and, seeming as if he had made great preparation for his nuptials, he sent for Griselda to come to him, and said to her, “ I am going to bring this lady home whom I have just married, and intend to show her all possible respect at her first coming: thou knowest that I have no women with me able to set out the rooms, and do many things which are requisite on so solemn an occasion. As, therefore, thou art best acquainted with the state of the house, I would have thee make such provision as thou shalt judge proper, and invite what ladies thou wilt, even as though thou wert mistress of the house, and, when the marriage is ended, return thee home to thy father's again." Though these words pierced like daggers to the heart of Griselda, who was unable to part with her love for the prince so easily as she had done her great fortune, yet she replied, “ My lord, I am ready to fulfil all your commands." She then went into the palace, in her coarse attire, from whence she had but just before departed in her shift, and with her own hands did she begin to sweep, and set all the rooms to rights, cleaning the stools and benches in the hall like the meanest servant, and directing what was to be done in the kitchen,
never giving over till everything was in order and as it ought to be. After this was done she invited, in the prince's name, all the ladies in the country to come to the feast. And on the day appointed for the marriage, meanly clad as she was, she received them in the most genteel and cheerful manner imaginable. Now Gualtieri, who had his children carefully brought up at Bologna (the girl being about twelve years old, and one of the prettiest creatures that ever was seen, and the boy six), had sent to his kinswoman there, to desire she would bring them, with an honourable retinue, to Saluzzo, giving it, out all the way
she came, that she was bringing the young lady to be married to him, without letting any one know to the contrary. Accordingly they all three set forwards, attended by a goodly train of gentry, and, after some days' travelling, reached Saluzzo about dinner-time, when they found the whole country assembled, waiting to see their new lady. The young lady was most graciously received by all the women present, and being come into the hall where the tables were all covered, Griselda, meanly dressed as she was, went cheerfully to meet her, saying, “ Your ladyship is most kindly welcome.” The ladies, who had greatly importuned the prince, though to no purpose, to let Griselda be in a room by herself, or else that she might have some of her own clothes, and not appear before strangers in that manner, were now seated, and going to be served round, whilst the young lady was universally admired, and every one said that the prince had made a good change; but Griselda in particular highly commended both her and her brother. The marquis now thinking that he had seen enough with regard to his wife's patience, and perceiving that in all her trials she was still the same, being persuaded likewise that this proceeded from no want of understanding in her, because he knew her to be singularly prudent, he thought it time to take her from that anguish which he supposed she might conceal under her firm and constant department. So, making her come before all the company, he said, with a smile, “What thinkest thou, Griselda, of my bride ?”—“My lord,” she replied, “ I like her extremely well; and if she be as prudent as she is fair, you may be the happiest man in the world with her: but I most humbly beg you would not take those heart-breaking measures with this lady as you did with your last wife, because she is young, and has been tenderly educated, whereas the other was inured to hardships from a child."
Gualtieri perceiving, that though Griselda thought that person was to be his wife, that she nevertheless answered him with great humility and sweetness of temper, he made her sit down by him, and said,
Griselda, it is now time for you to reap the fruit of your long patience, and that they who have reputed me to be cruel, unjust, and a monster in nature, may know that what I have done has been all along with a view to teach you how to behave as a wife; and, lastly, to secure my own ease and quiet as long as we live together, which I was apprehensive might have been endangered by my marrying. Therefore I had a mind to prove you by harsh and injurious treatment; and not being sensible that you have ever transgressed my will, either in word or deed, I now seem to have met with that happiness I desired. I intend, then, to restore in one hour what I have taken away from you in many, and to make you the sweetest recompense for the many bitter
pangs I have caused you to suffer. Accept, therefore, this young lady, whom you thought my spouse, and her brother, as your children and mine. They are the same which you and many others believed that I had been the means of cruelly murdering: and I am yeur
husband, who love and value you above all things; assuring myself that no person in the world can be happier in a wife than I am.” With this he embraced her most affectionately, when, rising up together, she weeping for joy, they went where their daughter was sitting, quite astonished with these things, and tenderly saluted both her and her brother, undeceiving them and the whole company. At this the women all arose, overjoyed, from the tables, and taking Griselda into the chamber, they clothed her with her own noble apparel, and as a marchioness, resembling such an one even in rags, and brought her into the hall. And being extremely rejoiced with her son and daughter, and every one expressing the utmost satisfaction at what had come to pass, the feasting was prolonged many days. The marquis was judged a very wise man, though abundantly too severe, and the trial of his lady most intolerable; but as for Griselda, she was beyond compare. In a few days the Count da Panago returned to Bologna, and the marquis took Giannucolo from his drudgery and maintained him as his father-in-law, and so he lived very comfortably to a good old age. Gualtieri afterwards married his daughter to one of equal nobility, continuing the rest of his life with Griselda, and showing her all the respect and honour that was possible. What can we