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  • Il Novellino

    The story of a vassal and a lord

    A vassal of a lord who held his lands, it being at the season of the new figs, and the lord walking through his land, saw a fine ripe fig at the top of a fig-tree. The lord told the vassal to pluck it for him.

    The vassal then thought: since he likes them, I will keep them for him. So he tended the tree and watched it carefully.

    When the figs were ripe, he brought the lord a basketful, thinking so to win his favour. But when he brought them, the season was past, and there was such an abundance of figs that they were almost given to the swine.

    The lord, seeing the figs, grew indignant, and ordered his servants to bind the vassal and take the figs from him and to throw them one by one in his face. And when a fig came near his eye, he cried out: my lord, I thank you.

    The servants owing to the strangeness of this went and told their lord who said: why did he say so? And the man answered: Sire, because I had in mind to bring peaches, and if I had brought them, I should now be blind.

    Then the lord began to laugh, and had the man unbound and gave him wherewith to dress himself again, and made him a present for the novel thing he had said1.

    1 Suetonius (Vita Tiber.) has a somewhat similar story of the Emperor Tiberius.

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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]. 169-170


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