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  • Il Novellino

    LIII
    Here it is told of a privilege granted by the Emperor to one of his barons

    The Emperor granted a privilege to one of his barons, that whosoever should pass through his lands should pay him a penny as toll-traverse for each manifest physical defect. The baron set a gate-keeper at his door to gather the tolls.

    One day it befell that a one-footed man came to the gate: the gate-keeper asked him for a penny. The man refused and began to pick a quarrel with him. The keeper took hold of him.

    The man, in order to defend himself, drew forth the stump of his arm, for he had lost one hand.

    When the keeper saw this, he said: you shall now pay me two pence, one for the hand, and one for the foot. So they went on fighting. The man's hat fell off his head. He had only one eye. The keeper said: you shall pay me three pence. They took hold of each other by the hair. The keeper felt his head: it was scabby. The keeper said: now you shall pay me four pence.

    So he who could have passed on without a quarrel, instead of one penny had to pay four.1

    1 The tale is from Disciplina Clericalis.

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    Il Novellino : The Hundred Old Tales
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    Storer, Edward, trans. Il Novellino: The Hundred Old Tales. London: G. Routledge & Sons Ltd.; New York: E. P. Dutton & Co., [1925]. 125-126

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