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THE TREASURE OF GOLD; A LEGEND OF ITALY, by                     Poet's Biography
First Line: A beautiful story, my darlings
Last Line: That came of the treasure of gold!
Subject(s): Gold; Legends, Italian


A BEAUTIFUL story, my darlings,
Though exceedingly quaint and old,
Is a tale I have read in Italian,
Entitled, the Treasure of Gold.


There lived near the town of Bologna
A widow of virtuous fame,
Alone with her only daughter, --
Madonna Lucrezia by name.


A lady whom changing fortune
Had numbered among the poor;
And she kept an inn by the wayside,
For the use of peasant and boor.


One day at the door of the tavern
Three roving banditti appeared,
And one was a wily Venetian,
To guess by his curious beard.


And he spoke to the waiting hostess
In phrases exceedingly fine,
And sat himself down with his fellows,
And called for a flagon of wine.


At length, after deeply discoursing
In voices suspiciously low,
The travelers rose from the table,
And made preparation to go.


"Madonna," up spoke the Venetian,
"Pray do us the kindness to hold
Awhile, for our better convenience,
This snug little treasure of gold."


"Indeed," said the smiling Lucrezia,
"You're welcome to leave it, -- but stay;
I have never a lock in my hovel,
And the bag may be stolen away.


"Besides," said the woman, "consider,
There's no one the fact to attest;
In pledge for so precious a treasure
You have only my word, at the best."


"In faith!" said the civil Venetian,
"We have n't a morsel of fear;
But to guard against awkward mischances,
Let the matter in writing appear."


And this was a part of the writing
She gave the banditti to hold:
"Not to one, nor to two, but to all
Will I render the treasure of gold."


Now the robbers were scarcely departed
When the cunning Venetian came back,
With, "Madam, allow me the favor
Of putting my seal to the sack."


But the moment she gave him the treasure,
A horseman rode up, and behold!
While the woman went out to attend him,
The villain ran off with the gold!


"Alas!" cried the widow, in anguish,
"Alas for my daughter forlorn;
I would we had perished together,
The day Giannetta was born!"


In sooth, she had reason for sorrow,
Although it were idle to weep;
She was sued in the court of Bologna
For the money she promised to keep.


"Now go, Giannetta," she faltered,
"To one that is versed in the laws;
But stop at the shrine of the Virgin,
And beg her to favor our cause."


Alas for Madonna Lucrezia!
In vain Giannetta applied
To each lawyer of note in the city;
They were all on the opposite side!


At last, as the sorrowing maiden
Sat pondering her misery over,
And breathing a prayer to the Virgin,
She thought of Lorenzo, her lover;


A student well read in the statutes,
According to common report,
But one who, from modest aversion,
Had never appeared in the court.


"I'll try!" said the faithful Lorenzo,
After hearing her narrative through,
"And for strength in the hour of trial,
I'll think, Giannetta, of you!"


Next morning the judges assembled;
The claimants' attorneys were heard,
And gave a most plausible version
Of how the transaction occurred;


Then showed, by the widow's confession,
She had taken the money to hold,
And proved that, though often requested,
She failed to surrender the gold.


The judges seemed fairly impatient
To utter the fatal decree,
When, lo! the young student Lorenzo
Stands up, and commences a plea: --


"Your Honors! I speak for the widow;
Some words have been (carelessly) said
Concerning a written agreement;
I ask that the writing be read."


"Of course," said the Court, "it is proper
The writing appear in the case;
The sense of a written agreement
May give it a different face."


"Observe," said the student, "the bargain
To which we are willing to hold, --
'Not to one, nor to two, but to all,
Will I render the treasure of gold.'


"We stand by the writing, your Honors,
And candidly ask of you whether
These fellows can sue for their money
Till they come and demand it together?"


And so it was presently settled,
For so did the judges decide;
And great was the joy of the widow,
And great was her daughter's pride.


And fast grew the fame of Lorenzo,
For making so clever a plea,
Till never in all Bologna
Was lawyer so wealthy as he.


And he married his own Giannetta,
As the story is pleasingly told;
And such were the bane and the blessing
That came of the Treasure of Gold!

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