[Notes by LKG]
This story is part of the Decameron unit. Story source: The Decameron by Boccaccio, translated by J. M. Rigg (1903).
The Adventures of Ferondo (end)
(see previous page for audio)"Oh!" said Ferondo; "if I ever return, I will be the best husband in the world: never will I beat her or scold her, save for the wine that she has sent me this morning, and also for sending me never a candle, so that I have had perforce to eat in the dark."
"Nay," said the monk, "she sent them, but they were burned at the masses."
"Oh!" said Ferondo. "I doubt not you say true, and, of a surety, if I ever return, I will let her do just as she likes. But tell me, who art thou that entreatest me thus?"
"Late of Sardinia I," answered the monk, "dead too, and, for that I gave my lord much countenance in his jealousy, doomed by God for my proper penance to entreat thee thus with food and drink and thrashings until such time as He may ordain otherwise touching thee and me."
"And are we two the only folk here?" inquired Ferondo.
"Nay, there are thousands beside," answered the monk, "but thou canst neither see nor hear them, nor they thee."
"And how far," said Ferondo, "may we be from our country?"
"Oh! ho!" returned the monk; "why, 'tis some miles clean out of shitrange."
"I'faith," said Ferondo, "that is far indeed: methinks we must be out of the world."
In such a course, alternately beaten, fed and amused with idle tales, was Ferondo kept for ten months, while the abbot, to his great felicity, paid many a visit to the fair lady and had the jolliest time in the world with her. But, as misfortunes will happen, the lady conceived, which fact, as soon as she was aware of it, she imparted to the abbot, whereupon both agreed that Ferondo must without delay be brought back from purgatory to earth and her, and be given to understand that she was with child of him.
So the very next night the abbot went to the prison and, in a disguised voice, pronounced Ferondo's name and said to him: "Ferondo, be of good cheer, for God is minded that thou return to earth, and on thy return thou shalt have a son by thy lady, and thou shalt call him Benedetto, because 'tis in answer to the prayers of thy holy abbot and thy lady, and for love of St. Benedict, that God accords thee this grace."
Whereat Ferondo was overjoyed and said: "It likes me well. God give a good year to Master Lord God, and the abbot, and St. Benedict, and my cheese-powdered, honey-sweet wife."
Then, in the wine that he sent him, the abbot administered enough of the powder to cause him to sleep for four hours, and so, with the aid of the monk, having first habited him in his proper clothes, he privily conveyed him back to the tomb in which he had been buried. On the morrow at daybreak, Ferondo revived and, perceiving through a chink in the tomb a glimmer of light to which he had been a stranger for full ten months, he knew that he was alive and began to bellow: "Let me out, let me out!"
Then, setting his head to the lid of the tomb, he heaved amain, whereby the lid, being insecure, started, and he was already thrusting it aside, when the monks, matins being now ended, ran to the spot and recognized Ferondo's voice and saw him issue from the tomb, by which unwonted event they were all so affrighted that they took to flight and hied them to the abbot, who, rising as if from prayer, said: "Sons, be not afraid; take the cross and the holy water, and follow me, and let us see what sign of His might God will vouchsafe us."
And so he led the way to the tomb, beside which they found Ferondo, standing, deathly pale by reason of his long estrangement from the light. On sight of the abbot, he ran and threw himself at his feet, saying: "My father, it has been revealed to me that 'tis to your prayers and those of St. Benedict and my lady that I owe my release from purgatorial pain and restoration to life, wherefore 'tis my prayer that God give you a good year and good calends, today and all days."
"Laud we the power of God!" said the abbot. "Go then, son, as God has restored thee to earth: comfort thy wife who, since thou didst depart this life, has been ever in tears, and mayst thou live henceforth in the love and service of God."
"Sir," answered Ferondo, "'tis well said, and, for the doing, trust me that, as soon as I find her, I shall kiss her; such is the love I bear her."
So saying, he went his way, and the abbot, left alone with his monks, made as if he marvelled greatly at the affair, and caused devoutly chant the Miserere.
So Ferondo returned to his hamlet where, all that saw him fleeing as folk are wont to flee from spectacles of horror, he called them back, asseverating that he was risen from the tomb. His wife at first was no less timorous, but, as folk began to take heart of grace perceiving that he was alive, they plied him with many questions, all which he answered as one that had returned with ripe experience, and gave them tidings of the souls of their kinsfolk, and told of his own invention the prettiest fables of the purgatorial state, and in full folkmoot recounted the revelation vouchsafed him by the mouth of Ragnolo Braghiello before his resuscitation.
Thus was Ferondo reinstated in his property and reunited to his wife who, being pregnant, as he thought, by himself, chanced by the time of her delivery to countenance the vulgar error that the woman must bear the infant in the womb for exactly nine months, and gave birth to a male child who was named Benedetto Ferondi. Ferondo's return from purgatory, and the report he brought thence, immeasurably enhanced the fame of the abbot's holiness. So Ferondo, cured of his jealousy by the thrashings which he had gotten for it, verified the abbot's prediction and never offended the lady again in that sort. Wherefore she lived with him, as before, in all outward seemliness, albeit she failed not, as occasion served, to forgather with the holy abbot, who had so well and sedulously served her in her especial need.