Emilia told the seventh story of the third day.
A noble young man by the name of Tedaldo degli Elisei fell in love with a lady named Monna Ermellina, who was the wife of Aldobrandino Palermini. Tedaldo and Monna had been enjoying each other’s company for a long time when suddenly she would not see him anymore. He was so distraught by the whole thing that he decided to leave Florence without telling anyone except the one friend who knew all about his affair with Monna.
He went to Ancona and adopted a new name-Filippo di San Lodeccio. There he met a rich merchant and began working for him. He was such a good worker that before long the merchant made Filippo his partner. Filippo made the business very successful; he became both rich and famous. He still thought about his beloved Monna, but being so strong-willed he was able to keep himself from going to see her for seven years.
One day, in Cyprus, he was listening to some music when he got the overwhelming urge to go and see her. Filippo left town with only a servant to accompany him. In Ancona, he sent his belongings ahead of him to the house of a friend’s business associate. He then disguised himself as a pilgrim returning from the Holy Sepulcher. When he arrived in Florence he immediately went to an inn that was near his beloved’s house. When he saw that her house was closed up tight he began to get very worried. He went to his brother’s house and he saw that his four brothers were all dressed in black. Filippo’s countenance and dress had changed so much over the last seven years that he was not afraid of being recognized, so he asked someone what had happened; he was told that Tedaldo had been murdered by Aldobrandino Palermini because Tedaldo was in love with his wife. Aldobrandino had been arrested and sentenced to death. He also found out that the lady was alive and doing okay. He returned to the inn, ate dinner, and then retired to his room. He didn’t sleep at all that night. Around midnight he heard some people on the roof. He went to his door and looked through the cracks. He saw a beautiful young woman and three men conversing. One of the men told the lady that they could rest easy now that Tedaldo’s murder had been attributed to Aldobrandino and that he had confessed. It turns out it was the three men who had killed the Tedaldo look-a-like. The lady appeared to be very happy when she heard what the men told her.
The next morning he went to his lady’s house and found that her door was open. He went in and found her weeping. He told her that her troubles would soon be over. He told her that he was from Constantinople and God sent him there to free her husband and bring laughter to her face once again. To convince her that he was a holy man, he told her everything about herself, her husband, and their marriage. She was convinced that he was a prophet. He then told her that all this was happening to her because of a sin that she had committed, and God wanted her to purge herself of that sin. She asked which of her many sins he was talking about. He asked if she had ever had an affair. She said that she was once in love with Tedaldo, and even though she pretended to not care about him she has wept bitterly over him. He asked her what Teldaldo did to offend her. She told him that Tedaldo had not offended her at all; the reason that she stopped seeing him was that a mean old friar, whom she had confessed to about the affair, threatened her with eternal damnation if she did not end it. She went on to say that if Tedaldo had just held out a little while longer her resolve would have weakened and they would have been able to resume their previous activities. He chastised her for robbing Tedaldo of her love, which was the true sin that she had committed. He lectured her on the truth about friars; they are lazy, greedy men, who wish to make themselves feel important and mighty at the hands of naïve men and women. They tell men and women to be chaste and end affairs, so that they can take the place of the women’s lovers. As long as men and women fear them and give them money, food, drink, and power they don’t have to live up to the supposed vows that they took. It is therefore, her fault that Tedaldo was murdered. He told her that if Tedaldo ever came back then she should restore him to the previous position that he held in her heart and in her bed. She agreed with every word he said, but was puzzled on why she must make the promise concerning Tedaldo since he was already dead and would never come back. He told her that Tedaldo was in fact alive; she was surprised and overjoyed. He decided that it was now time to reveal himself. He made her promise to never tell anyone the secret he was about to tell her. He took out the ring that she had given on the last night they had spent together, and asked her if she recognized it. She said that she did, and then Tedaldo, speaking in his Florentine accent once more, threw off his cloak to reveal his identity. She was startled at first, but then she threw her arms around him and kissed him. He then left her with the promise to restore Aldobrandino to her.
He went straight to where Aldobrandino was being held, and was allowed in to see him on the pretense of giving him spiritual comfort. He told Aldobrandino that he was sent to God to deliver him from this injustice; in return Aldobrandino must grant him a small gift. Aldobrandino agreed. The gift being that Aldobrandino forgive Tedaldo’s four brothers, who were the ones who accused him of Tedaldo’s murder in the first place. He agreed. He then left Aldobrandino, telling him to have faith.
He then went to see the Signoria (“the chief executive branch and main deliberative body of the Florentine government” (250)). In private, he spoke to the person in charge there. Tedaldo told him that Aldobrandino was innocent and before midnight he would be able to deliver up the real murderers. The man in charge took pity on Aldobrandino after hearing Tedaldo’s evidence, and had the two innkeepers and their servant arrested. They quickly confessed to killing Tedaldo. When asked why they killed him they said that he had tried to rape one of their wives while they were away.
After hearing their confession, he went back to his beloved Ermellina’s house and told her everything that had happened since he left her earlier that day. She was so happy and kissed him all over. They spent the night together making up for lost time.
The next day, Aldobrandino was released, and a few days after that the three murderers were beheaded. Aldobrandino invited the pilgrim “Tedaldo,” who had helped him, to stay with him and his wife for a long as he desired. He agreed and they all lived happily together. After a few days together, Tedaldo asked Aldobrandino to fulfill his promise by throwing a banquet and inviting Tedaldo’s brothers. Aldobrandino did as he had promised. The banquet was beautiful, but there was an obvious void; Tedaldo’s family still grieved his death. Tedaldo decided to reveal himself to everyone. At first, no one knew what to make of Tedaldo, but soon everyone was rejoicing; all except Ermellina. Her husband asked her what was wrong and she told him that the rumors about her infidelity with Tedaldo were holding her back. Aldobrandino told her that he did not believe that gossip and told her to go and embrace Tedaldo, which she did.
It happened a few days later that some soldiers that had just come into town called to Tedaldo, thinking that he was their friend Faziuolo da Pontriemoli. Apparently, Faziuolo had arrived in town fifteen days prior to that; it’s amazing how two men could look so alike. Finally, the mystery was solved, and all was right once again. Tedaldo and Ermellina continued to see each other as they had before with Aldobrandino none the wiser.
Boccaccio, Giovanni. The Decameron. New York: Signet Classics, 1982.