The Marquis then turned towards the old woman, observing, “Since it is clear that the money is none of his, but mine, and you have had the good luck to find it, pray keep it: the whole is your own; present it as a wedding-gift to your daughter. If it should happen that you meet with another purse, containing the ducats as well as the crowns, belonging to this gentleman, I beg you will return it to him without demanding any reward.”
Gratitude to the Marquis
The poor lady expressed her gratitude to the Marquis for this generous mark of his favor, and promised to observe his directions in everything. The wretched merchant, finding that the Marquis had truly penetrated into his motives, and that there was not a chance of succeeding in. his nefarious design, declared that he was now quite willing to pay the reward he had promised, if she restored the remaining money, which was indisputably his own. But it was now too late.
The Marquis turning toward
The old lady appeared extremely confused at this accusation, exclaiming in a distressed tone to the Marquis, “Oh, signor, can that be possible? Is it likely I should have stolen thirty- four ducats, when I had it in my power to possess myself of the whole? No; believe me, noble signor, I swear, as I value my hopes of heaven, that I have restored the exact sum which I found on my return from church; not a single farthing have I taken out.”
But the miserly old wretch continuing to affirm most solemnly that the ducats were in the same bag with the crowns, and that she must consider them as a sufficient remuneration, the affair seemed to perplex the Marquis not a little. Yet when he reflected that the old miser had only mentioned the four hundred crowns in the first instance, he began to suspect his design of imposing upon the poor woman in order to save the paltry sum offered as a reward.
The Marquis felt the utmost indignat
With great courtesy the Marquis acceded to this request, expressing himself at the same time concerned to witness the excessive affliction under which the unfortunate Filargiro seemed to labor. The reward was accordingly proclaimed, and the gold- soon afterwards made its appearance in the hands of one of those aged old ladies, who, being great devotees, always walk with their eyes upon the ground as they come from church. In this way she discovered the lost treasure, and fearful lest her conscience should be loaded with such a weight of gold, though extremely poor, she would have been very greatly perplexed in what way to act, had she not luckily heard the crier announcing the reward of forty crowns, which she hoped she might receive with a safe conscience.
Observing her destitute appearance, the Marquis very humanely inquired whether she had any means of procuring her subsistence, and whether she had no one to assist her. “I have nothing,
Giovanbattista Giraldi Cinthio (1504-1573)
Cinthio is another of the famous Italian story-tellers to whom Shakespeare is indebted for a good plot: the story of Othello was lifted from the collection called the Hecatommithi. Cinthio is best known for his gruesome subjects and the violence of his methods of treatment. Of noble birth, he spent the greater part of his life in a secretarial position at the court of Ferrara. As critic, dramatist and novelist, he is one of the important figures in the literature of his country.
Original plots are rare, and The Greek Merchant can claim no other originality than that of treatment. But is that not enough? Like most of the Italian tales we have included, it is gracefully turned, and maintains its interest up to the last moment.
The present version is translated by Thomas Roscoe, and reprinted from his Italian Novelists, London, no date. The story has no title in the original.
The Greek Merchant