Many others followed and joined these; but they were a nameless multitude, distinguished only for vulgar talents; some trying to raise a laugh by folly, others by pert wit; many by manual jests upon each other, in which innumerable were the blows given and received: they were a strange set, and whether they were handsome or ugly, old or young, agile or slow, expert or awkward, they turned even their defects to account, and with a never-ceasing grin, thronged around the nobles, forming a contrast to the dignified deportment and rich dresses of the latter, by their supple and serpentine motions, strange gait, and motley habiliments; some being ragged from lack of wit, others from detected roguery, all regarding with the eagerness of starved curs the riches of the castle, and the generosity of its mistress.

The court opened on the first of May; it was to last four days; and, on the evening before, surrounded by her guests, Euthanasia issued forth the laws for their amusements on the occasion: ‘The first day,’ said she, ‘we will give to hunting and hawking; the country is well stocked with game, and each guest has surely his falcon on his fist. I will instal Antelminelli, the liberatore of Lucca, king for that day; for he has been in foreign countries, and has studied these amusements under the best masters of the age; and I doubt not is well able to direct our exertions, and secure us plentiful sport.

‘The second day we will give up to our friends, the Uomini di Corte: they shall do their best to please us, and to deserve the rewards in store for them; certainly none will censure my choice, when I name William Borsiere king of that day. Let him direct the exertions of the rest, so that their tales, their songs, and their feats may succeed one another in agreeable variety.

‘On the third day the lists shall be set, and the knights will tilt for the honour of their ladies’ beauty; the conqueror shall receive as the reward of his prowess the liberty of choosing the queen for the following day, who will direct the sports of the ladies, and close with their games the gaieties of my court.’

A shout of applause followed the enunciation of these laws; and it was declared by all, that no better could be devised for the promotion of amusement among their joyful assembly.

On the first of May the sun arose in cloudless splendour. The steeds richly caparisoned were led from the stable, the ladies were mounted on gentle palfreys, and were followed by the esquires, holding the hawks, or with the dogs in leash; others sounding the awakening horn, while the air resounded with voices which called the idlers from their rooms, and said that the hunter deserved no game, who was not with the first a-field to brush the morning dew from the grass. Euthanasia headed a chosen band supreme in beauty; her soft and enthusiastic eyes now sparkled with joy, which the fair expanse of her smooth brow shewed to be yet uninvaded by the fang of a bitter sorrow; a smile hovered on her beautiful lips, like Love playing among the leaves of a rose; her golden hair shone under the sunbeams, and clustered round her neck white as marble, and, like that enriched by many a wandering vein, eclipsing the jewels of her dress; her motions, free as the winds, and graceful as an antelope of the south, appeared more than human in their loveliness; and, when she awoke the air with her silver voice, silence seemed on the watch to drink in the sound.

And now away!——They rode down the steep on which the castle stood, to a chesnut wood, and thence along a plain covered with brushwood: all was alive and gay; the huntsmen called to their dogs;—the knights reined in their restless steeds;—and the ladies with animated gestures, laughing looks, and upturned eyes, watched the flight of their birds, and betted upon their speed.

When noon approached, they became heated and tired, and looked around for a shady spot where they might repose. Castruccio rode forward, and said:—‘I should ill deserve the honour of being king of this day, if I suffered my fair subjects to wander as in a desart without refreshment or repose—follow me!’

They entered a chesnut wood; and, after riding about half a mile, they came to a small plot of ground, encircled by trees, and protected from the heat by canopies which were fastened to the boughs: a magnificent repast was prepared in this retreat; a profusion of wines glittered in glass vessels; the tables were piled with every delicate sweetmeat, as well as with the more substantial fare of flesh and fowl. The esquires having fastened their falcons to the branches of the trees, and covered their eyes with the hood, seized

  By PanEris using Melati.

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