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Here it is told of a story-teller of Messer Azzolino
Messer Azzolino1 had a story-teller whom he made tell him tales during the long nights of winter. It happened that one night the story-teller had a great desire to sleep, while Azzolino urged him to tell tales.
The story-teller began a tale of a countryman who had a hundred byzantines2 of his own which he took with him to the market to buy sheep at the price of two per byzantine. Returning with his sheep he came to a river he had passed before much swollen with the rains which had recently fallen. Standing on the bank, he saw a poor fisherman with a boat, but of so small a size that there was only room for the countryman and one sheep at a time. Then the countryman began to cross over with one sheep, and he began to row: the river was wide. He rowed and passed over.
And here the story-teller ceased his talc.
Azzolino said: go on! And the story-teller replied: let the sheep cross over and then I will tell you the tale. Since the sheep would not have crossed in a year, he could meanwhile sleep at his ease.3
1 Azzolino or Ezzelino da Romano, born 1194, died 1259 in battle against the Milanese. Known as tyrant of Padua
and the Marca Trevigiana. Dante (Inf. XII, 110, and Par. IX, 29) places him among the tyrants.
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