No longer venturing to refuse, he sent a grateful answer back that he would very willingly attend. And having heard tidings of Messer Stricca`s departure for Perugia, he set out at a favorable hour in the evening, and speedily arrived at the the house of the lady to whom he had been so long and so vainly attached.
“Checking his steed in full career, he threw himself off, and the next moment found himself in her presence, falling at her feet and saluting her with the most respectful and graceful carriage. She took him joyously by the hand, bidding him a thousand tender welcomes, and setting before him the choicest fruits and refreshments of the season.
Then inviting him to be seated, he was served with the greatest variety and splendor; and more delicious than all, the bright lady herself presided there, no longer frowning and turning away when he began to breathe the story of his love and sufferings into her ear. Delighted .and surprised beyond his proudest hopes, Galgano was profuse in his expressions of gratitude and regard, though he could not quite conceal his wonder at this happy and unexpected change; entreating, at length, as a particular favor, that she would deign to acquaint him with its blessed cause. `That willl do soon,` replied the glowing beauty;
`I will tell you every word, and wherefore did I send for you`; and she looked into his face with a serene and pure yet somewhat mournful countenance. `Indeed,` returned her lover, a little perplexed, `words can never tell half of what I felt, dear lady, when I heard you had this morning sent for me, after having desired and followed you for so long a time in vain.` `Listen to me, and I will tell you, Galgano; but first sit a little nearer to me, for, alas!
My husband replied
I love you. A few days ago, you know, you passed near our house when hawking, and my husband told me that he saw you, and invited you in to supper, but you would not come. At that moment your hawk sprang and pursued its prey, when seeing the noble bird make such a gallant fight, I inquired to whom it belonged, and my husband replied, “To whom should it belong but to the most excellent young man in Siena”; and that it did well to resemble you, as he had never met a more pleasing and accomplished gentleman.
`Did he—did he say that?` interrupted her lover. `He did indeed, and much more, praising you to me over and over; until hearing it, and knowing the tenderness you have long borne me, I could not resist the temptation of sending for you hither`; and, half blushes, half tears, she confessed that she was no longer indifferent to him, and that such was the occasion of it. `Can the whole of this be true?` exclaimed Galgano. `Alas! too true,` she replied. `I know not how it is, but I wish he had not praised you so.` After struggling with himself a few moments, the unhappy lover withdrew his hand from hers, saying, `Now God forbid that I should do the least wrong to one who has so nobly expressed himself, and who has ever shown so much kindness and courtesy to me.`
Then suddenly rising, as with an effort, from his seat, he took a gentle farewell of the lady, not without some tears shed on both sides; both loving, yet respecting each other. Never afterwards did this noble youth allude to the affair in the slightest way, but always treated Messer Stricca with the utmost regard and reverence during his acquaintance with the family.”
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