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of wood and water. The mariners wondered very much at their appearance, and especially at Bianca, who wore a fantastical cap, made of rabbit skins, with a cloak of the same motley fur to defend her from the sharp sea air; and as for Tebaldo, his garments were as motley as hers, being partly seaman's apparel and partly his own, whilst his beard and mustaches had grown to a savage length.
The sailors, however, took them very willingly on board, where they inquired eagerly concerning Mercanti; but although the captain knew him well, having often carried his freightages, he could give no tidings of his estate. He promised, notwithstanding, to touch at Palermo; whither the ship made a very brief passage, to the infinite relief of the lovers; for now, after all their misfortunes, they were about to return to the same miserable point where they began. Bianca. therefore, spent the whole time of the voyage in grieving apart in her own cabin, not daring to trust herself in sight of Tebaldo; who, on his part, at the prospect of their separation after such an intimate communion of danger and distresses, was jeady to cast himself into the sea.
Suppose them, then, arrived at Palermo, where Tebaldo, with a sadder heart than he had foreseen, proceeded to complete his undertaking, by rendering up Bianca to her husband. He repaired, therefore, to the house, and inquired for Mercanti; whereupon, being shown into his presence—
"I am come," said he, "to render up my trust, and would to God that my life were a part of the submission. I have redeemed your wife, at the cost of your ten thousand florins and some perils besides; for which, if you owe me any thing, I leave her my executor, for I have nothing left me now but to die.1'
The merchant, looking somewhat amazed at his discourse, then answered him thus:—
"If the lady you speak of is the wife of my brother, Gio. Mercanti, he has been dead these three months; but I shall rejoice to see her, and, likewise, to make over the properties that belong to her by his bequest. And for the eminent service you have rendered to her, for my late brother's sake, I will gratefully repay you; his last words having been full of concern for his dear lady, and of confidence in the integrity of the Signor Tebaldo Zanche; which name, I doubt not, you have made honourable in your own person. I beseech of you, therefore, to lead me instantly to my kinswoman, that I may entertain her as she deserves."
The overjoyed Tebaldo, without waiting to make any answer to these courtesies, ran instantly on board ship to Bianca; who now, without any reserve, cast herself into his loving arms. She did not forget, however, the tears that were due to the generosity of her dead husband, but mourned for him a decent season; after which, with the very good-will of her parents and all parties, she gave her hand to the faithful Tebaldo. Thus, after many trials, which they endured nobly, they were finally made happy, as their long misfortunes and virtue well deserved; and their names are preserved unto this day, as the Two Faithful Lovers of Sicily.