Filomena told the third story of the third day.
Not long ago, there lived a fine and noble lady, who had been bestowed with all of the finest qualities a lady of her station could ever hope to have (ie. beauty, manners, etc.). This lady was unhappily married to a wool merchant; despite the fact that he was rich she could not accept the fact that she was married to a common merchant, so she decided to take on a lover. The lady soon found herself madly in love with a thirty-five year old gentleman, who had no idea that she was in love with him; she didn’t dare risk involving a maid, who might tell on her and she couldn’t go to him directly as it would be improper. She noticed that this gentleman was often with a well-respected friar, so she decided to visit with the friar. She confessed her sins to him, and then asked for some counsel on another matter. He obliged. She told him that she was happily married to a man, who would do or give her anything to make her happy, but she was scared to tell him about her current predicament. She told the friar that there was a tall gentleman in elegant brown clothes, who kept following her around. She was greatly distressed by his presence, and feared that if she told her husband or brothers that they might react with their fists; so she resolved to tell only the friar because she had seen him with the gentleman on several occasions. She then bent her head down as if she were about to cry. The friar knew to whom she was referring to and promised her that he would never bother her again. If the man tried to deny that he had been following her then the friar was instructed to tell him that it was she that had told on him. She filled the friar’s hand with alms and left the church.
The next time the gentleman came to see the friar; the friar reproached him for his behavior towards the noble lady. The gentleman tried to deny having anything to do with her, but the friar wouldn’t hear of it. The gentleman quickly realized what the lady’s intentions had been when she told the friar this farce, so he went to her house. She was looking out of a tiny window when they spotted each other. She was so delighted to see him and he her that from that day on he passed by her house as much as he could.
She was eager to further their relationship, so she went back to the friar and cried at his knee. He asked her what was wrong and she told him that the gentleman hadn’t stopped coming by her house, and she was afraid that she might be tempted to do something that she would regret. He was even so bold as to send a maidservant to her house with a message and a couple of trinkets (a purse and a belt), as if she didn’t already have enough of these. She gave them back to the maidservant to give back to him, but then thought better of it and gave them to the friar so that he could give them back to the gentleman. The friar promised to speak to him again, and told her that this would never happen again. She gave him a florin in the name of her dead relatives and left.
The friar sent for the gentleman and when he arrived the friar reprimanded him severely. The gentleman knew what had happened so he played along and pretended to be ashamed of himself. The friar gave him the purse and belt that the lady had given to him and the gentleman apologized and promised not to bother her ever again. He left the friar feeling very happy. He showed her that he had received her gifts, now all they had to do was wait for her husband to go out of town. She didn’t have to wait long, because her husband had to go to Genoa for some reason or another.
Delighted at the prospect of seeing her beloved, she went back to the friar. She was weeping again and told the friar that the gentleman must have found out that her husband had gone off to Genoa, because just before dawn he entered her garden and climbed up the tree outside of bedroom and tried to enter through her window. She told the friar that she then slammed the window in his face. The friar promised her again that the gentleman would never bother her again, and she left pretending to be angry. The friar was extremely angry and reproached the gentleman more fiercely than ever before. The friar told him everything that the lady had said. He calmed the friar as well as he could and left the church. The next morning, he went to his beloved the way that she had instructed the friar. They fully enjoyed each other. They worked out how to communicate without ever having to use the friar again. They laughed at the stupidity of the friar and made fun of her husband’s trade. From then on when her husband went out of town they would get together.
Boccaccio, Giovanni. The Decameron. New York: Signet Classics, 1982.