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The Haunters and the Haunted edited by Ernest Rhys online
IV A STORY OF RAVENNA
Anastasio having heard all this discourse, his hair stood upright, like porcupines' quills, and his soul was so shaken with the terror, that he stepped back to suffer the knight to do what he was enjoined, looking yet with mild commiseration on the poor woman, who kneeling most humbly before the knight, and sternly seized on by the two bloodhounds, he opened her breast with his weapon, drawing forth her heart and bowels, which instantly he threw to the dogs, and they devoured them very greedily. Soon after the damsel, as if none of this punishment had been inflicted on her, started up suddenly, running amain towards the seashore, and the hounds swiftly following her, as the knight did the like, after he had taken his sword and was mounted on horseback, so that Anastasio had soon lost all sight of them, and could not guess what could become of them.
After he had heard and observed all these things, he stood a while as confounded with fear and pity, like a simple silly man, hoodwinked with his own passions, not knowing the subtle enemy's cunning illusions in offering false suggestions to the sight, to work his own ends thereby, and increase the number of his deceived servants. Forthwith he persuaded himself that he might make good use of this woman's tormenting, so justly imposed on the knight to prosecute, if thus it should continue still every Friday. Wherefore setting a good note or mark upon the place, he returned back to his own people, and at such times as he thought convenient, sent for divers of his kindred and friends from Ravenna, who being present with him, thus he spake to them:
"Dear kinsmen and friends, ye have long while importuned me to discontinue my over-doating love to her whom you all think, and I find to be my mortal enemy; as also to give over my lavish expenses, wherein I confess myself too prodigal; both which requests of yours I will condescend to, provided that you will perform one gracious favour for me--namely, that on Friday next, Messer Paolo Traversario, his wife, daughter, with all other women linked in lineage to them, and such beside only as you shall please to appoint, will vouchsafe to accept a dinner here with me. As for the reason thereto moving me, you shall then more at large be acquainted withal." This appeared no difficult matter for them to accomplish. Wherefore being returned to Ravenna, and as they found the time answerable to their purpose, they invited such as Anastasio had appointed them. And although they found it somewhat a hard matter to gain her company whom he had so dearly affected, yet notwithstanding, the other women won her along with them.
A most magnificent dinner had Anastasio provided, and the tables were covered under the pine-trees, where he saw the cruel lady so pursued and slain; directing the guests so in their seating that the young gentlewoman, his unkind mistress, sate with her face opposite unto the place where the dismal spectacle was to be seen. About the closing up of dinner, they began to hear the noise of the poor persecuted woman, which drove them all to much admiration, desiring to know what it was, and no one resolving them they rose from the tables, and looking directly as the noise came to them, they espied the woful woman, the dogs eagerly pursuing her; the knight galloping after them with his drawn weapon, and came very near unto the company, who cried out with loud exclaims against the dogs, and the knights stepped forth in assistance of the injured woman.