THE DEPAMERON
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THE DEPAMERON

10.4: As I live (sort of)and breathe(more or less)

Gentile Carisendi is madly in love with Catalina. But she does not return his affections as she is most content with her husband Niccoluccio, a chief magistrate of Modena. Niccoluccio travels on the regular to Modena to fulfill his duties but in the time of this tale, Catalina does not accompany him as she is about to give birth.

Sadly, she falls deathly ill, and her relatives, thinking she has died, inter her without trying to save the baby, as they think it has no chance of survival without its mother. They inter her into the family tomb and that’s all she wrote.

Gentile is very distraught at her death, and grief stricken, he sneaks into the mausoleum, and lies down next to her and figures, what they hey, who’s gonna know, starts to (ahem) caress his deceased beloved. Only…

Turns out that Catalina is not deceased at all!! He can feel a faint heartbeat. So what else would a good Italian man do? He brings her home to his mother, who tends the ex-ex lady tenderly. Catalina soon revives and gives birth to a boy, who is healthy!

She asks to be returned to her husband, but Gentile wants to be more elaborate about it and asks her to wait. She agrees, as she owes him, and arrangements are made.

Gentile invites Niccoluccio and his family to a lavish banquet, keeping Catalina and the baby hidden. He tells Niccoluccio that they are going to observe a Persian (ie wacko, not Italian) custom, that of showing the guest his most prized possession. But first! A question for the magistrate:

A rich man has cast out his ill servant to the streets. Another man takes in the servant and nurses him back to health. Who then has rights to the servant?

Undoubtedly the second man who has taken up what the other cast out.

At this Gentile reveals his ‘possession’, that is, Catalina and the baby. She’s changed so much that Niccoluccio doesn’t recognize her, and she doesn’t say anything.

So says Gentile, this is the servant of whom I spoke. According to you, I have rights over her. But I must tell you- this is your wife, Catalina and the son she bore after your family left her for dead in the tomb.

Upon this revelation, there is a general outpouring of grief and relief (this is an Italian crew, just imagine the weeping and gesticulation!) Gentile declares that even though by Niccoluccio’s own judgment the woman and baby are his, he cannot in good conscience keep them. He magnanimously returns the woman and child to her husband.

This occasions even more weeping and gesticulations, this time signifying joy and gratitude. Catalina and her baby are reunited with the family she loves. Gentile and Niccoluccio become the most steadfast of friends.

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Pamelapolis

Pamelapolis

Dealing with reality on an as needed basis. Celebrating serendipity and seeking equilibrium. On a treasure hunt.