Two rustics, Gil and Menga, are looking for a lost donkey when they spy two men preparing to fight a duel. Lisardo, one of the men, is angry that anyone as low-born as Eusebio, the other, should aspire to marry Julia, Lisardo’s sister.
Eusebio explains by telling a miraculous story. He was one of two infants abandoned beneath a wayside cross. Taken home by a shepherd, the famished baby bit the breast of his foster mother, who threw the child into a well, where his rescuers found him floating safely with arms crossed. Later the house in which he was living burned, but the fire broke out on the Day of the Cross, and once more he survived unharmed. More recently, in a shipwreck, he floated to safety on a raft of two crossed planks. He explains that since he obviously acquired nobility by devotion to the cross, he deserves Julia. Lisardo denies the claim and they fight. As happened before in Eusebio’s life, no harm comes to him in a dangerous situation. As Lisardo lies dying of his wound, he begs in the name of the cross for Eusebio to save him. The amazed peasants report that they saw Eusebio pick up his dying enemy and carry him to a convent.
Back in Siena, Julia is fearful of her father’s discovery of letters she received from Eusebio. When her lover appears, wanting to take her away with him before she learns about her brother’s death, her father’s arrival forces him to hide and to listen to Curcio as he voices his long-held...
(The entire section is 575 words.)