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Curial e Güelfa


There appeared to him a young boy, very poor and quite naked, without any protection, and as he went begging alms from house to house he found no one who would give to him or show him any pity, so that it seemed he must die of hunger. And as he was gasping for breath and at the point of death, he saw a lady, so fair that Venus herself would have been pleased to have such beauty as hers. This lady was dressed all in black, in widow’s weeds; and before the boy had begged alms or even dared to speak to her, for so great was the reverence she inspired, she cried out to him ‘What do you want, boy?’ The boy answered ‘Lady, I’m dying of hunger and cold.’ At once the lady took off her gown and wrapped him in it, and it seemed to Curial that this helped him. Then she raised her hand to her breast and tore out her heart, and said to him ‘Eat this bread and be content, for it is enough to satisfy your hunger.’ And the boy ate the heart and it seemed to Curial that there was no sweeter food in the whole world. And as he ate it, he saw him grow and become a handsome man of fine stature. Then the lady said ‘Eat well and be satisfied on this condition: that if ever you see me dying of hunger, you must take pity on me.’ The boy promised, and that done, he went away; and there remained Curial and the lady.

After this, it happened that he seemed to see this lady in a state of poverty, sad and deeply afflicted, her hair all dishevelled and loose, her face pale and sorrowful, and so thin that there was no flesh between skin and bone, as though she were dying of hunger; and he saw her asking for food from the man to whom she had given all he needed, and he would give her nothing, but turned his back on her and forgot her entirely. The lady, seeing such ingratitude, lost all her strength and, not knowing what she could do nor wanting to take anything offered to her by anyone else, she was at death’s door, especially when she saw that wicked man giving to another lady the bread that should be hers to eat. Curial felt like killing him. After this, he saw the heavens open and Phoebus, who sees all things, telling Venus of this ingratitude. She at once sent her son Cupid to bring help to the lady, who stretched his bow and let fly two shafts, one of lead, the other of gold. With the leaden arrow he struck the lady in the middle of her heart, with that of gold the ungrateful man, and so deeply were they wounded that the lady fell asleep, while the man suffered in agony, in the greatest possible pain, and longed for death but could not attain it.


Translated by Pamela Waley
, . Curial and Guelfa. Traducció de Pamela Waley. Londres: George Allen & Unwin, 1982, p. 35.
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