OF RASO AND HIS WIFE

Raso had a castle, strongly fortified, because his land was near to that of the Saracens. Raso had fewer troops than the emir but had the greatest prowess, thanks to his skill and that of his only son. The son’s mother was dead and Raso, for diplomatic reasons, married a rich and beautiful woman. As is so often the case in these instances, he became fearful of her honour but decided that the only proper course of action was to rely on her voluntary chastity.

The emir was young and seeking to gain renown and, one day, he advanced his forces into the Christian enclave. Raso, to earn honour for his lady, attacked impetuously and the emir was captured and placed in the castle’s dungeon and the keys given to Raso’s wife for safekeeping. When she saw the emir, she was taken prisoner by his soulful eyes and, taking advantage of her liberty, realised that the emir could give her all that the old man could not.

She tortured the prisoner by giving him scant food and water and allowing no one else to have access to him. Pride is soon overcome by hunger and, before long, he was devouring what bread she threw at him through the window as if he was a bear. From there it was a little step to entangle him completely within her power.

Raso set out on a raid without fear but, as soon as he was gone, his wife freed the prisoner and they escaped together on Raso’s own horse. When Raso came back he could not believe the misfortune that had befallen him but was mostly sorry for the loss of the horse.

He and his son disguised themselves as beggars and went to the Saracen city to gain what intelligence they could. Raso slipped into the crowd waiting for alms but he had chosen a day when it was the lady was giving out the charity. She saw through his disguise immediately and had her husband arrested and handed over to the emir.

Meanwhile Raso’s son was waiting nearby. Hearing the alarum, he feared the worst and that was confirmed when he listened to the gossip of the crowd. His father was going to be dispatched that very hour. He let the crowd guide him to the place of execution and drawing his sword, rushed forward and stabbed the emir and he and his father escaped in the confusion.

Raso, although thanks to his son he had escaped with his head, was not rejoicing because he had still not got back his horse. He determined to return to the city, again disguised as a beggar but this time was careful not to show himself to the lady. He discovered that the woman and another Saracen lord she had taken up with planned to leave the city the next day.

He returned to his castle, assembled his men and, leaving them at a nearby oasis, waited outside the southern gate in Saracen armour. At first light the lady came out of the gates riding Raso’s horse. She saw the armed man and thought it was her new protector. They headed off towards the oasis but Raso, being an old man who had been up all night, began to feel terribly weary. He could not help himself and fell asleep in the saddle and started to snore. The lady recognised that snoring. Forming a plan of her own, she begged her new suitor to turn aside and rest.

This other Saracen lord, angry that the woman had apparently fled, got together a great force in pursuit. Soon he approached the place where Raso slept. The woman beckoned him over but Raso’s horse neighed, waking his master and saving him from death.

Raso met the first attack mightily, shouting for his son and his band. They, alerted by his cries, soon arrived and killed the Saracens and the lady was killed by her step-son and so Raso was able to return home with his horse and much booty beside.

 

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