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  • Il Novellino

    Here is told a tale of a man of the court whose name was Marco

    Marco Lombardo1 who was wiser than any other man of his calling, was one day approached by a poor but distinguished gentleman who secretly accepted gifts of money from people of substance, but did not take other gifts. He had a very sharp tongue, and his name was Paolino. He put such a question to Marco as he thought Marco would not be able to answer.

    Marco, he said, you are the wisest man in all Italy, and you are poor, and disdain to petition for gifts: why did you not take forethought so as to be rich and not have to beg?

    And Marco turned round and then said: no one sees us, and no one hears us. And how did you manage? And Sharp-Tongue replied: I have indeed but managed to be poor. And Marco said: then do not betray me, and I will not betray you2.

    1 See Novella XLIV.
    2 No doubt this is thirteenth century wit, though to us neither of the two minstrels seems to have had a particularly sharp tongue. In original: tiello credenza a me et io a te. In other words: do not say we are poor. Neither shall you say it to me, nor I to you.

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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]. 128-129


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