ALREADY the sister of the sun had begun her reign in the sky over the forests and the gloomy gorges of the hills, and showed her golden circle over the half of heaven; already the car of Phoebus had sunk beneath the western wave, the moving stars had lighted their lamps, and the pretty birds, ceasing their pleasant songs and bickerings, sought repose in their nests set amongst the green boughs, when the ladies and the gallant youths as well met on the third evening in the accustomed spot to renew their story-telling. And as soon as they were all seated according to their rank, the Signora Lucretia commanded that the vase should be brought forth as before and in it she caused to be placed the names of five damsels, who, according to the order determined by lot, should that evening tell in turn their stories. The first name which was drawn from the vase was that of Cateruzza, the second that of Arianna, the third that of Lauretta, the fourth that of Alteria, and the fifth that of Eritrea. Then the Signora gave the word for the Trevisan to take his lute, and Molino his viol, and for all the rest to tread a measure to Bembo’s leading. And when the dance had come to an end, and the sweet lyre and the divine strings of the hollow lute were silent, the Signora directed Lauretta to begin her song, and she, anxious to obey the Signora in everything, took hands with her companions, and having made respectful salutation, sang in clear and mellow tone the following song:
Lady, while thy face I scan,
Where love smiling holds his court,
Lo! from out your beauteous eyes
Light so radiant doth arise
That it shows us Paradise.
All my sighs and all my tears,
Which I foolish shed in vain;
All the anguish of my heart,
All my hidden woe and smart,
With my faint desire have part.
Then to love’s last mood I fly,
Reeking nought that earth and sky
Stand beneath me and above;
So my soul is drawn by love
To the heights of passion free,
And I learn that fate’s decree
Binds me, whatsoe’er betide,
Dead or living, to thy side.
After Lauretta and her companions had given sign by their silence that their song had come to an end, the Signora, bending her gaze upon the fair and open countenance of Cateruzza, said that the task of making a beginning of the story telling of that third evening fell upon her, and Cateruzza, with a becoming blush upon her cheek and laughing lightly, began in these terms.