THE humid shadows of the dusky night were already be ginning to spread over the parched earth, and the sweet birds were gone quietly to sleep in their nests built amongst the leafy branches of the straight standing trees, when the lovesome and honourable company of ladies and gentlemen, having put away far from them all troublesome thoughts and cares, betook themselves to the accustomed place of meeting. And after certain graceful dances had been trodden with stately step, the Signora gave command that the vase should be brought forth and that the names of five of the ladies should be placed therein. Of these the first to be drawn out was that of Diana, the second that of Lionora, the third that of Isabella, the fourth that of Vicenza, and the fifth that of Fiordiana But the Signora let them know that it was her wish that, before the story-telling should begin, they should all five of them sing a song to the accompaniment of their lyres. Whereupon the damsels, with joyful faces and smiling as sweetly as if they had been angels, began their song in these words.
Forsaken flowerets pale,
The hearing of this amorous song, which perchance touched the inmost hearts of divers of the company, provoked many deep sighs. But everyone kept closely hidden in the bosom what ever love-secrets may have been there. Then the gentle Diana,1 knowing well that it was her duty to begin the story telling of the night, without waiting for further command thus began.
1. No lady of this
name is described amongst the ten original attendants of the Signora.
She here appears for the first time, and later on tells a story in the
Eleventh Night. But her name is missing when, in the Thirteenth Night,
thirteen of the company take a turn at Story-telling.
Straparola, Giovanni Francesco. The Facetious Nights by Straparola. W. G. Waters, translator. Jules Garnier and E. R. Hughes, illustrators. London: Privately Printed for Members of the Society of Bibliophiles, 1901. 4 volumes.