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The Children's Book by  Horace E. Scudder
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THE HISTORY OF FORTUNATUS

IN the famous Island of Cyprus there is a stately city called Famagosta, in which lived a wealthy citizen named Theodorus. He being left young by his parents addicted himself to all pleasure, resorting to the courts of princes and spending all his wealth in riotous living, to the grief of his friends, who, thinking to make him leave his idle courses, got him married to a rich citizen's daughter named Gratiana.

In one year after their marriage Gratiana gave birth to a son, who was named Fortunatus. Theodorus, in a short time, began to follow his old, bad courses, insomuch that he sold and mortgaged his land, until he had wasted all his estate, so that he fell into extreme poverty. Gratiana was forced to dress her meat and wash her clothes herself, not being able to keep one servant, or hire the meanest assistance.

Theodorus and his wife sitting one day at a poor dinner, he could hardly refrain from weeping, which his son, who was now about eighteen years of age, and skilled in hunting, hawking, and playing on the lute, perceiving, said, "Father, what aileth you? for I observe, when you look upon me you seem sad. Sir, I have in some way offended you."

Theodorus answered, "My dear son, thou art not the cause of my grief, but I myself have been the sole cause of the pinching poverty we all feel. When I call to mind the wealth and honor so lately enjoyed, and when I consider how unable I am now to help my child, it is that which vexes me."

To this his son replied, "Beloved father, do not take immoderate care for me, for I am young and strong. I have not been so brought up but that I can shift for myself. I will go abroad and try my fortune. I fear not but I shall find work and preferment."

Soon after, without the least ceremony, Fortunatus set out, with a hawk on his hand, and traveled towards the seaside, where he espied a galley of Venice lying at anchor. He inquired what ship she was, and where bound, hoping he might here find employment. He was told the Earl of Flanders was on board, and had lost two of his men.

[118] Fortunatus, wishing that he could be entertained as one of the servants, and so get away from his native place, where his poverty was so well known, steps up to the earl, and says, "I understand, noble lord, you have lost two of your men; if so you please, I desire to be received into your service." "What wages do you ask?" says the earl. "No wages," says Fortunatus, "but to be rewarded according to my deserts." This answer pleased the earl, so they agreed, and sailed to Venice.

The earl now turned back and was joyfully received by his subjects, and welcomed by his neighbors, for he was a very affable and just prince. Soon after his return he married the Duke of Cleve's daughter, who was a very beautiful lady. At the wedding, to which came several lords, tournaments were held before the ladies, and though there were so many gentlemen, yet none behaved so well as Fortunatus.

After the nobles had finished their triumphs and delightful games, the duke and bride and bridegroom agreed to let their servants try their manhood at several pastimes for two jewels, each worth a hundred crowns. This made all the servants glad, every one striving to do his best.

The Duke of Burgundy's servant won one, and Fortunatus the other, which displeased the other servants. Upon which they desired the duke's servant to challenge Forunatus to fight him before the ladies, the winner to have both jewels. This challenge he accepted. Coming to the tilt-yard, they encountered each other very briskly, and at last Forunatus hoisted the duke's servant quite off his horse, at spear's length. Whereupon he obtained victory, and got the jewels, which increased the envy of all the other servants, but much rejoiced the earl.

Among the earl's servants was a crafty old fellow, who consulted with the rest of the servants, and agreed, for ten crowns, to make Forunatus quit his master's service of his own accord. To accomplish the affair he pretended great friendship to Forunatus, treating him, and praising him much for his great courage.

At last he told him he had a secret to reveal to him, which was, that his lord having conceived a jealousy of his two chamberlains, of whom Fortunatus was one, he had a design privately to have them whipped. This much amazed Fortunatus, who desired his fellow-servant to inform him how to convey himself away; "for," said he, "I had rather wander a vagabond, than be so served." Says Robert, "I am sorry I told thee anything, since I shall now lose thy company." Being resolved to go off, however, he desired Robert to conceal his departure, and mounting his horse rode away.

When Fortunatus had ridden ten miles he bought another horse, and returned the earl's that he might not pursue him; but when the earl found he was gone without his leave, not knowing the cause, he was offended, and demanded of the servants if they knew the occasion; which they all denied. Then he went to the ladies and gentlewomen, and inquired of them if they knew anything of his departure. And they answered, No.

Then said the earl, "Though the cause of his departure is hidden from me, yet I am persuaded he is not gone without some cause, which I will find out, if it be possible." When Robert found his lord was so vexed for the loss of Fortunatus, he went and hanged himself, for fear of being discovered.

Fortunatus, having sent home his master's horse, traveled with all speed to Calais, where he took shipping, and arrived safe in England. Coming to London, he met with some young Cyprus merchants, his countrymen, who riotously spent their money in gaming; so that in about half a year's time their cash was quite spent. Fortunatus, having least, was soon exhausted.

Being moneyless, he went to some of his landladies to borrow three crowns, telling them he wanted to go to Flanders to fetch four hundred crowns that were in his uncle's hands; but he was denied, and none would they lend him. He then desired to be trusted for a quart of wine; but they refused, and bid the servants fetch him a pint of small beer. He then took shipping, and soon arrived in Picardy in France.

[119] Traveling through a wood, and being benighted, he approached an old house, where he hoped to find some relief; but there was no creature in it. Then, hearing a noise among the bears, he got up into a tree, where one of them had climbed. Fortunatus, being surprised, drew his sword, and struck the bear, so that he fell from the tree. The rest of the beasts being gone, Fortunatus came down from the tree, and, laying his mouth to the wound, sucked out some of the blood, with which he was refreshed, and then slept until morning.

As soon as Fortunatus awoke, he saw standing before him a fair lady, with her eyes muffled. "I beseech thee," said he, "sweet virgin, to assist me, that I may get out of this wood, for I have traveled a great way without food." She asked what country he was of. He replied, "Of Cyprus, and am constrained by poverty to seek my fortune." "Fear not, Fortunatus," said she; "I am the Goddess Fortune, and by the permission of Heaven have the power of six gifts, one of which I will bestow on thee. So choose for yourself. They are, Wisdom, Strength, Riches, Health, Beauty, and Long Life."


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Said Fortunatus, "I desire to have Riches as long as I live." With that she gave him a purse, saying, "As often as you put your hand into this purse, you shall find ten pounds of the coin of any nation you shall happen to be in." Fortunatus returned many thanks to the goddess. Then she bid him follow her out of the wood, and so vanished.

He then put his hand into the purse, and drew out the first-fruits of the goddess's bounty, with which he went to an inn, and refreshed himself. After which he paid his host, and instantly departed, as doubting the reality of his money, notwithstanding the evidence of his hands and eyes.

[120] Two miles from this wood was a little town and castle, where dwelt an earl who owned the wood. Fortunatus here took up his lodging at the best inn, and asked the host if he could help him to some good horses. The host him told there was a dealer who had several very fine ones, of which the earl had chosen three; but was refused, though he offered three hundred crowns for them. Fortunatus went to his chamber, and took out of his purse six hundred crowns, and bid the host to send for the dealer with his horses.

The host at first supposed he had been in jest, seeing him so meanly appareled; but on being convinced by the sight of the money, the dealer and horses were sent for, and Fortunatus, with a few words, bargained for two of those the earl had wanted, and gave three hundred crowns for them. He bought also costly saddles and furniture, and desired his host to get him two servants.

The earl, hearing that the two horses had been bought out of his hands, grew angry, and sent to the innkeeper, to be informed who he was. The earl, being told that he was a stranger, commanded him to be apprehended, imagining he had committed some robbery. Fortunatus, on being questioned who he was answered he was born in Cyprus, and was the son of a decayed gentleman. The earl asked him how he got so much money. He told him he came by it honestly.

Then the earl swore in a violent passion, that if he would not discover, he would put him to the rack. Fortunatus proposed to die rather than reveal it. Upon this he was put on the rack; and being again asked how he got so many crowns, he said that he found them in a wood adjoining. "Thou villain," said the earl, "the money you found is mine, and thy body and goods are forfeited." "O my gracious lord," said he, "I knew not it was in your dominion." "But," said the earl, "this shall not excuse you, for to-day I will take thy goods, and to-morrow thy life."

Then did Fortunatus wish he had chosen Wisdom before Riches. He earnestly begged his life of the earl, who, at the entreaty of some of the nobles, spared his life, and restored him the crowns and his purse, and charged him never to come into his dominion. Fortunatus rejoiced that he had so well escaped, and had not lost his purse.

After that he had traveled towards his own country, having got horses and servants to attend him, he arrived at Famagosta, where it was told him that his father and mother were dead. He then purchased his father's house, pulled it down, and built a stately palace. He also built a fine church, and had three tombs made: one for his father and mother, the other for the wife he intended to marry, and the last for his heirs and himself.

Not far from Famagosta lived a lord who had three daughters, one of whom the King of Cyprus intended to bestow on Fortunatus, but gave him leave to take his choice. When Fortunatus had asked them the question, he chose the youngest, to the great grief of the other two sisters; but the countess and earl approved of the match. Fortunatus presented the countess, his wife's mother, and her two sisters with several rich jewels.

Then did the king offer to keep the wedding at his court; but Fortunatus wished to keep it at his own palace, desiring the king and queen's company. "Then," said the king, "I will come with my queen and all my relations." After four days the king and all his company went to Fortunatus' house, where they were entertained in a grand manner. His house was adorned with costly furniture, glorious to behold. This feasting lasted forty days. Then the king returned to his court, vastly satisfied with the entertainment. After this, Fortunatus made another feast for the citizens, their wives and daughters.

Fortunatus and his wife Cassandra lived long in a happy state, and found no want of anything but children. Fortunatus knew the virtue of his purse would fail at his death if he had no heirs. Therefore he made it constantly his prayer to God that he would be pleased to send him a child, and at length in due time a son was born to him, and he named him Ampadu. Shortly after, he had another son: and he provided for them the best of tutors, to take care they had an education suitable for their fortunes.

[121] Fortunatus, having been married twelve years, took it into his head to travel once more; which his wife much opposed, desiring him, by all the love he bore her and her dear children, not to leave them. But he was resolved, and soon after took leave of his wife and children, promising them to return again in a short space. A few days after, he took shipping for Alexandria, where he stayed some time, and got acquainted with the sultan, whose favor he gained so as to receive letters to carry him safe through his dominions.

Fortunatus, after supper, opened his purse, and gave to all the sultan's servants very liberally. The sultan, being highly pleased, told Fortunatus he would show him such curiosities as he had never seen. Then he took him to a strong marble tower. In the first room were several very rich vessels and jewels; in the second he showed several vessels of gold coin, with a fine wardrobe of garments, and golden candlesticks, which shone all over the room, and mightily pleased Fortunatus.

Then the sultan showed him his bed-chamber, which was finely adorned; and likewise a small felt hat, simple to behold; saying, "I set more value on this hat than on all my jewels, as such another is not to be had, for it lets a person be wherever he doth wish."

Fortunatus imagined this would agree very well with his purse, and he thereupon put it on his head, saying he should be very glad of a hat that had such virtue. So the sultan immediately gave it to him. With that he suddenly wished himself in his ship, it being under sail, that he might return to his own country. The sultan, looking out of the window and seeing the ship under sail, was very angry, and commanded his men to fetch him back, declaring, if they took him, he should be immediately put to death. But all in vain. Fortunatus was too quick for them, and arriving safe at Famagosta, richly laden, was joyfully received by his wife, two sons, and the citizens.

He now began to care for the advancement of his children, maintained a princely court, and provided masters to instruct his children in all manner of chivalry. The youngest was most inclined to behave manfully, which caused Fortunatus to bestow many jewels upon him for his exploits. When he had many years enjoyed all earthly pleasures, Cassandra died, which so grieved him that he prepared himself for death also.

Fortunatus, perceiving his death to approach, said to his two sons: "God has taken away your mother, who so tenderly nourished you; and I, perceiving death at hand, will show you how you may continue in honor to your dying days." Then he declared to them the virtue of his purse, and that it would last no longer than their lives. He also told them the virtue of his wishing-hat, and commanded them not to part with those jewels, but to keep them in common, and live friendly together, and not to make any person privy to their virtues; "For," said he, "I have concealed them forty years, and never revealed them to any but you." Having said this, he ceased to speak and immediately gave up the ghost. His sons buried him in the magnificent church before mentioned.


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