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he could not well digest the notion of length reached his own home in safe his wife having taken upon her to dis- ty, but was there denied admittance ; miss his servants without his know- begging, therefore, that she would ledge. He pretended, however, to the forthwith send an order to the new country man who now addressed him, bailiff to receive him, together with a that he was an intimate friend of the change of linen, his cloak, boots, and master of the house, and intimated other necessaries, after which he would that he should be glad of a night's himself come to Florence the next day, lodging. The man, seeing his strange and there, in the arms of his dear Brigarb, was not well satisfied what to do gida, recount to her all the particulars upon the occasion. However, he was of the wonderful events that had be at last prevailed upon by Master Ma- fallen him. nente's fair speaking, and admitted Michel Angelo, the goldsmith, hahim into his little cabin, where he was ving (as has been said) made up his invited to partake of the slender sup- mind to its being an imposture, now per provided for the household. The wrote in the name of the lady, and redoctor being resolved not to make him- turned by the same messenger, a letter self known to these people, asked no full of wrath, commanding the prequestions about the family; but, see- tender to depart in God's name, or he ing pen, ink, and paper, on a table, sat would otherwise send the officers to lay down and wrote a short letter to his hold of him; and this being dispatchwife, which he gave to the labourer's ed, he returned to his shop, leaving son in charge to deliver the first thing Monna Brigida at home full of susin the morning at his house in Flo- pense and half stupified. rence. He then betook himself to rest Master Manente had passed the day on the bed of straw, which was all the in strolling to the house of a friend of accommodation they had to offer him, his who kept poultry, about three miles and on which he soon fell asleep, not- off, to whom he passed himself for a withstanding the multitude of thoughts traveller just arrived from Albano, and which now began to distract him. where (without making himself known
· Next morning, by the first dawn of to him) he purchased a pair of fat ca. day, Manente's messenger set off for pons, which he carried back with him Florence with the letter, and, reaching for his supper, fully expecting, on the Master Manente's house by dinner- return of his messenger, to be recogtime, delivered it into the hands of his nized as master, and admitted into his good lady, Monna Brigida, who, re- own mansion. He was not greatly decognizing her husband's hand-writing, lighted, therefore, at finding a very was ready to faint away on the spot. different reception, nor at the delivery Her grief and consternation increased of a note without seal or subscription on perusal of the letter, and were still the contents of which were still more farther augmented by the answers displeasing to him than the mode of which the boy returned to her inquic address or delivery. His host of the ries concerning the person, voice, and preceding night gave him moreover to stature of him who had sent it. She understand, (in no very courteous lanimmediately sent for Michel Angelo, guage, that he must look out elsethe goldsmith, who was no less sur- where for a lodging; a demand which prised than she had been at reading the poor doctor did not stay to hear the letter ; but, nevertheless, holding repeated, but told him he would deit for certain that Manente was dead part immediately. His mind now beand buried, gave it as his opinion that gan to misgive him, that he had, in the person who wrote it was an impos- good truth, made an exchange of his tor, who had adopted this contrivance own personal identity, and was no longfor accomplishing some unlawful pure er Master Manente; insomuch that, pose, either with regard to her person, in a voice at once the most humble or her late husband's property ; the and disconsolate, he entreated the councontents of the letter shortly being, tyman to tell him who was his masthat the writer informed his dearly ter; whereto the countryman replied, beloved consort, how, after many and that his master was Master Michel strange perils had passed, after being Angelo, the goldsmith, whose wife shut up for a twelvemonth in fear of was Monna Brigida. He then inquihis life, and having finally escaped by red again whether this Monna Brigi. a miraculous Providence, he had at da had ever before been married ; to which the countryman returned for almost beside himself. By this it was answer, Yes; and that her former hus- dinner-time, and, in a state of despeband, as he had heard say,) was Mas- ration, he betook himself to his old ter Manente, a physician, who died one quarters, Delle Bertucce, where the day of the plague, and had left an only landlord, Master Amadore, was anoson, called Sandrino, (or little Alex- ther of his most familiar companions, ander.) “ Alas! alas !" exclaimed the who, after he had sat there some time, physician, “ what is this you tell observed to him that he thought he me!" And then asked many other had seen his face before, but could not questions, to all which the man an- remember where, or on what occasion ; swered that he was not able to inform to which the mortified doctor replied him, being bimself from the Casentin that it was very likely, as he had no, and an entire stranger to the neigh- formerly resided for some time in Flobourhood of Mugello.
rence, which he had left to go to sea, Master Manente now determined and, being now returned, intended to with himself to leave his present quar- take up his abode here again; whereters without farther delay; and, as he with the said Amadore appeared to be had s.ill two hours of day-light, took perfectly satisfied, and asked no fare the road towards Florence, comforting ther questions. himself with the hope that his wife He now, having dined, resolved at and relations had been deceived by all hazards to make himself known to some false report of his death, but Monna Brigida that same evening; would immediately recognize him on and accordingly, when he judged his returning among them. He arriit a convenient time, he sallied forth ved late in the evening at a public- once more to the street de' Fossi, house, about a mile from the city, and having given two loud knocks at where he rested for the night, eating the door, the lady herself came to ask only two poached eggs for his supper; who was there.-- To whom the poor and the next morning early, having physician answered, “ It is I-open discharged his reckoning, proceeded to the door to me, my dear Brigida.” Florence, and walked half-way through “ And who are you?” rejoined the the city without being recognized by a lady. To which Master Manente resingle individual, although he met seve- plied in a whisper, so as not to be ral of his old friends and acquaintances, heard by all the neighbourhood, so entirely was he metamorphosed by “Come hither, and I will tell you.” bis seaman's habit. At last, turning the Monna Brigida, to whom both the corner of the street de' Fossi, he saw voice and looks of the unwelcome vi. his wife, leading bis little boy by the sitor appeared greatly to strengthen hand, enter the house, as they were the misgivings which his letter had returning from mass; and, being well occasioned, declined obeying his sumassured that she also had seen him, mons, and said only, “Whosoever you but without shewing the least sign of are, tell it me directly, and what you knowledge, his heart misgave him; want?"-"Don't you see?" answered and, instead of going directly home, the physician—"Is it not I-your Maas was his first intention, he went to nente-your true and lawful husband Santa Croce, to find one Master Sebas- -and are you not my wife, whom I tiano, his confessor, thinking that he am come back to claim, after a long would be a good negotiator ; but, upon and cruel absence?”-“ Master Mainquiry, was told that he had gone to nente, my husband-you certainly are Bologna, upon which he was quite in not ?" said the lady, “ seeing that he despair, and could not tell what step is dead and buried."-" How, Brigi. was next to be taken.
da?-dead !” rejoined the physician ; Thus, having made the circuit of “ No, I never died, nor was buried !" the city, through the Piazza, and both And then he added, “ Open the door the old and new market places, and quickly-for love's sake, open. Why, having met, among divers others of his don't you know me again, my own old acquaintance, his most intimate dear love? Am I then so metamorfriends, Biondo the broker, Feo the mu- phosed ? Nay, open, open, and I will sician, Leonardo the saddler, and Mas- immediately convince you that I am ter Zenobio the barber, without any still living."_" What!" said the obof them appearing to have the least durate lady ; “ and are you then the recollection of him, he became at last impudent fellow that sent me a letter
yesterday? Begone! begone instant- retreated in the direction of St Maria ly-and a plague upon you! If my Novella, while the crowd made way husband returns, and finds you here, for him on every side, crossing themthere will be the devil to pay.”
selves with all their might, and runA crowd of people was by this time ning and tumbling over each other in collected round the door. Whereupon their fright, no less than if they had Monna Dorothea, a very decent per- actually beheld one risen from the sonage, who lived opposite, and had dead. witnessed all that had passed, said to For that night he again took up his Brigida-" Have a care, daughter, old quarters at the Bertucce, intending for this may well be Master Manente's the next morning to have recourse to spirit, seeing that, verily, he much re- the spiritual court for assistance. But, sembles him in voice and figure. Speak desirous to make one more trial, he to it, then, and ask it in civil language, proposed to his host to invite Burchiwhether or no it wants aught with ello,* and Biondo the broker, (than thee?” Upon which Brigida, who whom he had not two more intimate was half inclined to believe the truth friends in the world) to sup with him ; of what she now heard, began with which mine host gladly undertook, piteous accents thus to accost him, and the invitation being as gladly ac7: Oh, blessed spirit! hast thou any- cepted, they all three met at the Berthing which presses upon thy con- tucce at the hour appointed. science? Dost thou require the office At their first meeting, Burchiello for the dead to be performed for thee? exhibited some signs of recognition, Hast thou any undischarged vow to particularly on hearing the sound of accomplish? Say what thou wouldst his voice; and Master Manente, on have, oh gentle spirit! and then de- his feet, paid him the most marked part in peace, and in God's name.” attention, saying that he had been inMaster Manente, having this invoca- duced, by his reputation, thus to seek tion, was half inclined to laugh out in the honour of his acquaintance ; for spite of his vexation ; but he simply all which, Burchiello thanked him answered, by assuring her, that he was with due formality. They then sat still living, and that she had only to down to table; and while they were open the door to be convinced it was waiting for supper, Master Manente so. She, nevertheless, went on, cross- entertained them with a long fabulous ing herself, and asking if the poor narrative of his life, and the cause ghost required the mass of St Gregory which had brought him hither. Burto be said for it; and then, also, Mon- chiello had by this time whispered na Dorothea, in like manner, chimed Biondo that he never saw so great a in with her, saying, “ Spirit of grace! likeness as of this man to their old if so be that thou art in purgatory, friend Manente; and that, if he had declare it, in order that thy good wite not been sure he was dead, he should may perform jubilee, and withdraw say, that without doubt, it was he thee from the place of thy torments.” himself to which Biondo fully asThen, making the longest signs of the sented. cross ever seen, and repeating at every Meanwhile mine host, having putall moment her “ Requiescat in pace,” all things in order, the sallads made their the people who stood round about be- appearance, accompanied by bread and gan by degrees to do the same, and two flasks of sparkling wine ; upon the withdraw themselves to a more awful sight of which they left off their disdistance ; seeing which, and that there course, and set to with excellent apwas no chance of his making any far- petites, mine host and Burchiello tather impression on Monna Brigida, king the inside of the table, and Massupported as she was by her old gossip- ter Manente and Biondo the opposite ing neighbour, the poor disconsolate seats. Thus, while they ate and drank, doctor once more quitted the field, and Burchiello kept his eyes constantly
* Domenico Burchiello was a burlesque poet, so celebrated in his day as to have given name to a peculiar species of composition, called after him the Burchiellesca. (See Ginguené.) This Burchiello, (the poet,) died, however, in 1448, when Lorenzo was a child. Either (therefore, he is not the same with the Burchiello of this story, or we have detecte ed Lasca in an anachronism.
fixed on the doctor, and the first thing them, saying, “My good friends, don't he remarked, was his drinking two be frightened. Touch him, and feel cups of wine, one immediately after him; spirits are not made of flesh and the other upon his sallad, which was bone, as this man is besides which, also Master Manente's constant cus- have you not seen him eat and drink tom. He remained silent, however, in your presence?" To which Manente though inwardly marvelling ; and, ou added, "I am a living man, pray, don't the arrival of the next course, consist- doubt it ; don't be afraid of me, my ing of pigeons and small birds, he again brethren! In good sooth, I never yet remarked that the first thing done by have known what death is. Only listhe stranger was to separate the heads ten, and I will relate to you one of from the bodies of the birds, and eat the most marvellous stories ever heard them,-being a part of which Master beneath the sun.” By which, and Manente was likewise particularly fond. other such like expressions, he, with Upon this, he was just on the point Burchiello's assistance, at length so far of discovering himself, but restrained succeeded, that, by little and little, his intentions for the sake of still far- they got the better of their terror and ther assurance. Lastly, when the fruit incredulity. was placed on the table, consisting of Supper being cleared away, and the pears, (sementine,) grapes, (sancolom- doors locked to prevent intrusion, the kane,) and excellent raviggiuoli, he four friends resumed their seats at the became perfectly satisfied; for the phy- table, and Master Manente recounted sician, after partaking of both the for- to them in full the history of his mer, ended his supper without touch- strange disasters. He had no sooner ing the raviggiuoli, notwithstanding concluded, than Burchiello (who was all the rest of the company bestowed the cleverest fellow existing) said diupon them the highest praises ; Bur- rectly, “ This is all a trick of Lorenzo chiello very well knowing that Master the Magnifico.” The others stoutly Manente had such an antipathy to this opposed this conclusion, declaring that species of eatable, that he would as soon the whole was most undoubtedly the have eaten both hisown hands as touch- effect of enchantment. Nevertheless, ed them. Upon receiving this last proof Burchiello, persisting in his first imof identity, he seized him (laughingly) pression, continued, “ It is not every by the left hand, and lifting up his body who knows as well as I do the sleeve, discovered near the wrist the fruitfulness of that man's invention, mark of a rasher of bacon, which Mas- nor how impossible it is to make him ter Manente had brought with him forego any enterprize which he has from his mother's womb; whereupon once taken in hand. It is the very dehe exelaimed, with a loud voice, vil to have to do with one who, like “Thou art Master Manente, and canst him, knows everything, and has power conceal it no longer ;" and, throwing and inclination to back all his deboth his arms round his neck, em- signs.” Then turning to the Doctor, braced and kissed him.
he said, “I long ago suspected that he Biondo and mine host, seeing what might have the heart to play you some passed, were lost in amazement, and such prank as you have related to us. retreated backwards a little, that they Depend upon it, Master Manente, might the more securely mark what princes are always princes; and woe followed : Which was, that Manente be to him who thinks he may presume replied to Burchiello's salutation, by upon their familiarity to take liberties saying, “ You only, Burchiello, of all with them.” my friends and relations, have ac- Manente, in his turn, now made his knowledged me for what I am, and friends relate to him the history of the that I am indeed that very Master Ma- pretende i plague, and of the man who bepte, who never died, as was falsely was buried in his place with the tureported, and is so foolishly credited mour in his throat-all which things by iny wife, and by all Florence.” At sorely perlexed him; nor was Burchielthis, Amadore and Biondo waxed pale lo himself able to find the clue to this as ashes-the one crossed himself, the part of the contrivance. At length, otber followed his example, and both however, they all came to one conclufelt the same terror as if they had really sion, which was, that Master Manente seen the ghost of one departed; but had nothing for it but to commence Burchiello look upon him to re-assure procecdings in the Bishop's Court for the recovery of his rights and proper- (who presided as judge,) having conty. And with this resolution they se- sidered on one side the proof of idenparated, the Doctor going along with tity, and on the other, the produced his friend Burchiello, the other two certificates, became utterly perplexed not being yet altogether satisfied as to and confounded. However, as there the reality of what they had witnessed. was clearly a dead man in the case,
In the meantime, Michel Angelo and it was equally clear that the perthe goldsmith, on his return home, had son who stood before him as Master Mabeen informed by Monna Brigida of nente, was not that dead man, he conall that had happened, which was con- cluded that there must have been some firmed by her sanctified neighbour, foul play (perhaps murder in the busiwho added, moreover, that she was ness, which rendered it fit for the cogcertain it was Master Manente's spirit, nizance of a criminal tribunal. For which wanted to be redeemed out of which reason, having secretly informpurgatory. “What spirit, what pur- ed the Council of Eight concerning gatory, you foolish woman !” exclaim- his cause of suspicion, the officers of ed the angry goldsmith. “Can't you justice were forth with dispatched to perceive that it was that same impos- the Court, where the parties were still tor, that vagabond sailor, who sent pleading, and where they were all ar-* you the letter yesterday morning ?” rested and put in prison. And therewithal he grew very pensive, The next day, as soon as the Counbeing ill able to account for so strange cil was sitting, Master Manente was an occurrence, and yet willing to give had before them and interrogated as to credit to any interpretation of it rather all that had happened, which he rethan the true one, or than to believe counted in so minute, and at the saine that Master Manente, whom he had time artless a manner, that several of seen dead and buried, was returned to the counsellors, notwithstanding the life again.
gravity of the proceeding, and the unThe next morning early, having actountable nature of the circumstanwashed and trimmed his hair and beard ces, could not refrain from laughing according to the fashion of the day, at many passages. Having finished his and accoutred in some clothes of his narrative, he was remanded to prison, friend Burchiello's which exactly fit- and Niccolajo and Michel Angelo were, ted him, Master Manente sallied forth one after another, next had up and exagain into the streets of Florence; and amined, who not only exactly agreed in in these, which resembled his own ore all the circumstances of their story, dinary habits, he was seen and recog- but confirmed it by the production of nized by many; Biondo and Amadore the certificates already mentioned. having in the meantime circulated the They were also remanded, and the report of his being alive, and returned Council proceeded next to send for the to Florence in quest of his wife and hospital servant who had been present his chattels. Among the rest, he was at the supposed death of Manente, and seen both by Niccolajo and Michel An- by whom it was wisely judged that gelo, who, notwithstanding the evi- some light might be cast on the mysdence of their senses, still continued tery. But it so fell out, for the sake to intrench themselves in the persua- of the jest, that this same fellow, whose sion, that Master Manente being dead examination must have led to the deand buried, this man could not possi- tection of the whole plot had somebly be he, however strongly resembling time before wounded a man in a fray, him. So, having heard that he in- in consequence of which he absconded, tended to make his claim in the Bic and had never since been heard of. shop's Court, they, on their part, pre- Thus, all things combined to further pared for their defence against it, to this most admirable of hoaxes. The which end they furnished themselves Council then instructed their officers with credentials from the officers of to make every inquiry that was possithe board of health, and with the pro- ble, in order to ascertain the degree of per certificate of burial.
credit due to each story; and the reTo lose no time, that same after- sult of their investigation was to connoon Master Manente lodged his com- firm (so far as it was possible to arplaint, and took out a summons, which rive at any conclusion the veracity of his brother-in-law and Michel Angelo all the witnesses. forth with attended; and the Vicar, In the meantime, Burchiello, who