III. Hatless in Hibernia
The King, knowing that Agrippina had the Purse, mused: ‘Andolosia may have more of these virtuous Purses. If that was his only one, then he’s an utter fool for taking so little care of it that a pretty woman can ease it from his possession.’ He set great store by the Purse, thinking: ‘Now money will never fail me, and I need not give my daughter a dowry; she can provide for herself quite honourably. But how am I to discover if Andolosia has any more of these purses?’
So he sent him a message, saying that he would ride out on the following day and he wished Andolosia to join the party; before that, however, the King desired to dine with him. Hearing this, Andolosia replied that the King should not make requests, but command him at all times as his servant: he would always find him willing. When this came to the King’s ears, he thought: he undoubtedly has more purses.
Andolosia summoned one of his servants, to whom he usually gave three or four hundred crowns to keep a good house, and told him to prepare a sumptuous meal, for the King was coming to dine. The man said:
“Sir, I’m afraid that I don’t have enough money. This’ll cost a lot.”
Andolosia, who was still in a black mood, opened his jerkin and pulled out his purse, with a view to counting out four hundred crowns. But when he put his hand inside, after his accustomed fashion, it closed on air. He raised his eyes to the heavens, he looked from one wall to the other, he turned the purse inside-out – there was a distinct absence of money.
And he realised that Agrippina had duped him. He fell, as you can well understand, into a foul mood. For the first time, he was plunged into fear and want, and he thought of the advice that his father had given him and his brother in good faith on his deathbed, namely to tell no one of the Purse as long as they lived; for the moment that another learnt of its existence, they would lose it. And this had, alas, come to pass. Andolosia also realised that the King’s message was meant to mock him, and there was no hope of demanding the return of the Purse; he could expect nothing from the King but disgrace, ignominy and derision. In his heart’s pain it seemed that he could take no better course than that of riding home to his brother: ‘and I’ll be an unworthy guest, returning without the Purse’. Having made this resolve, he called for all of his servants and delivered the following speech:
“It’s now nigh on ten years since you entered my service. I have maintained you honourably and let you suffer no lack. I am in debt to none; you have all been paid in advance. The time has now come when I can no longer hold court as I have been accustomed to, and I can no longer be a lord, not your’s, not anyone’s. Now every one of you has a stout horse and good armour, but there is one more trifle that I would like to share with you.”
And turning to his treasurer, he said: “Now count. How much cash do you have?”
The treasurer told a hundred and sixty crowns. There were forty servants, and Andolosia gave two crowns to each, saying: “These crowns, and the horse and armour, are my gift to every one of you, and I pronounce you free, released, and discharged from the vow you made me. Let each one of you provide for himself as he knows best from now on, for I cannot remain here any longer, and I have no money beyond that which I have shared with you.”
When he had finished speaking, the servants were grievously shocked; they looked at one another, amazed that so luxurious a mode of life and so grand a figure should disappear in one night. Then one of them spoke out: “Our dear, faithful master, if anyone has done you some injury, give us to understand who it was for he must die by our hands, even if it was the King himself, and we should all lose our lives for it.”
“No one is to fight for my sake,” replied Andolosia.
They said, “Well, we don’t want to part from you. We’ll sell our horses, armour, and all we have, and not leave you.”
“I thank you all, my dear, dutiful servants, for the offer. When fortune returns to me I shall repay your loyalty. But do as I said and saddle my horse for me at once; I will not have anyone riding or walking with me.”
The servants were sad, and deeply pitied their worthy master, with whom they had enjoyed such good cheer; and they lamented among themselves with tears in their eyes while they brought him his horse. Then Andolosia took his leave of each man in turn, mounted the horse, and rode as fast as he could to his brother Ampedo in Famagusta.
And when he arrived at the beautiful palace, he knocked on the doors and was admitted at once. Ampedo heard that his brother had come home, and he was delighted; he thought that now he could have his pleasure of the Purse and no longer have to scrimp as he had been doing for ten years. So he went to his brother and received him with great joy, then asked why he came alone and where he had left his retinue.
“I have dismissed them all, and I praise God that I am come home.”
Ampedo asked, “Dear brother, what has happened to you? Tell me, for it pleases me little that you are come alone.”
Andolosia said, “Let us eat first,” and when the meal was over they retired to a room, where Andolosia began to speak with a humble voice and a sorrowful air: “Oh, my dearest brother, I’m afraid that I must be the herald of bad news, I have done us a grievous injury. I’ve lost our fortunate Purse. Ah God, it hurts me to the heart; but I cannot, alas, change what is done.”
Ampedo was shaken to the core, and he swayed on the point of swooning; with heartfelt misery he asked, “Was it wrested from you by force, or did you lose it?”
“I ignored the command our faithful father gave us when he departed this world and I disclosed the secret of the Purse to a loved one. And as soon as I revealed it to her, she stole it from me – which I had not expected of her.”
“If we had followed our father’s instructions,” said Ampedo, “we wouldn’t have separated the two treasures. You would go and visit foreign countries! Well, just look at the success you have met with, and the profit they’ve brought you.”
“Oh, dear brother,” sighed Andolosia, “it hangs so heavy on my heart that I fear my days are almost done, and I am almost past caring.”
Hearing these words, Ampedo attempted to comfort Andolosia: “Dear brother, don’t take it so hard to heart. We still have two chests crammed with ducats; and we have the Hat, we’ll write to the Sultan, and he’ll pay us handsomely for it. We may not have the Purse any longer, but we still have enough money to lead the rest of our lives in honourable state. There is no point in thinking after things that can’t be recovered.”
Andolosia replied, “It’s hard to let go of your belongings, and so it is my wish that you give me the Hat; I have hopes of using it to regain the Purse.”
“It is said that when a man loses his possessions, he loses his wits as well; and I can see that this is the case with you. Having lost us the Purse, you now want to lose us the Hat as well. But I won’t grant you my will and favour to take it away from here; you are, however, welcome to use it for recreation.”
‘Then I’ll just have to leave without your permission’, thought Andolosia.
“Now, my dear, faithful brother,” he began, “as I have been guilty of folly, from this point on I shall live according to your will.” And he sent the servants to the forest to prepare for a hunt, saying that he would soon follow. Once they had gone, Andolosia said: “Dear brother, lend me our Hat. I want to go to the forest.”
Ampedo readily brought him the Hat, and the second he had it in his hands he left the forest and the hunters to each other and wished himself in Genoa. He asked after the most precious jewels in the city and had them brought to his inn, where he examined them closely, placed them on a handkerchief as if about to weigh them – and disappeared. And as he had done in Genoa, so he did in Florence and Venice, collecting the most expensive jewels in the city without paying a penny. And then he went to London.
Now Andolosia knew that Princess Agrippina went to church, so he hired a stall on the adjoining street and laid his jewels out on display. Presently Agrippina came along, with many knaves and maids before and behind, including the old lady’s-maid who had given him the stupefying potion. He knew them all, but they did not recognise him, for he was wearing a false nose, which was so large and bizarre that his own mother would not have known him from Adam. When Agrippina had passed by, he picked up two glittering rings and presented them to the two old lady’s-maids, who he knew to be Agrippina’s constant companions and counsellors, and he asked them to be so good as to persuade the Princess to invite him to her palace; he would bring with him jewels of such exquisiteness that he was certain they had never seen the like. They promised to bring this to pass; and when Agrippina came home from church, they showed her the two pretty rings and told her about the adventurer.
“When he gives you two such beautiful rings, I can well believe that he has precious jewels,” said the Princess. “Send for him to come here, for I long to see his wares.” Once he was summoned, the stranger did not take long to arrive, and he was conducted to Agrippina’s antechamber, where he set out his wares. Agrippina surveyed them with delight, and she began to haggle over the ones she liked best. There were some jewels there worth a thousand crowns, and others whose value was far greater; but she did not offer him even half their worth.
“Gracious Princess,” said the stranger, “I have heard that you are the richest Princess in the whole of the world, and so I have sought out the most beautiful jewels under the sun to bring to Your Majesty. But you offer me far too little, far less than they cost me. Do not make my time of no moment; I have journeyed long towards you with the constant dread of being murdered for the sake of these jewels. Gracious Princess, lay together those you like, and we shall see what loss I can accept.”
Then she selected her favourites, some ten gems of varying size, and the adventurer calculated their value at five thousand Crowns. She did not want to meet this amount; Andolosia thought, ‘I don’t want to wrangle with her – just let her bring the Purse…’, and so they agreed on for four thousand Crowns. The Princess carried the jewels to her chamber in her skirts, took the Purse out of a chest, fastened it tightly to her girdle and came through to pay the stranger.
He slowly edged his way towards her, and when she began to count out the money, he threw his arms round her, grasped her tightly, and wished the two of them in a wild, uninhabited desert. No sooner had he made the wish than they flew through the air to a wretched island off the coast of Hibernia, where they found themselves sitting in the shade of a tree which bore many beautiful apples.
And as the Princess sat under the tree, with the gems in her skirts and the Purse on her girdle, she looked up and saw the shining apples. Then she cried to the adventurer: “Ah God, tell me where we are and how we came here. I feel so weak; if you could give me one of those apples, so I may refresh myself.”
Hearing this, Andolosia laid the remaining gems in her lap and placed his hat on her head, so that it would not impede him while he was climbing. Then he clambered up the tree and started to look for the choicest apples. Agrippina, sitting under the tree without the least idea of what was happening to her, exclaimed: “Ah, would to God I were back in my bedchamber.”
no sooner were the words out of her mouth than she was flew through
the air and arrived, without a scratch, in her bedchamber. The
King, the Queen and all the courtiers were truly delighted, and they
asked her where she had been. She replied that she did not know;
so they asked where the stranger was, who had abducted her. Agrippina
said, “I left him up a tree. Don’t ask me any more, I must
rest; I feel so weak and so weary.”