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Gesta Romanorum Vol. II (1871)/Of the punishment of Offenders




There was an emperor whose porter was remarkably sagacious. He earnestly besought his master, that he might have the custody of a city for a single month, and receive, by way of tax, one penny from every crook-backed, one-eyed, scabby, leprous, or ruptured person. The emperor admitted his request, and confirmed the gift under his own seal. Accordingly, the porter was installed in his office; and as the people entered the city, he took note of their defects, and charged them a penny in conformity with the grant. It happened that a hunch-backed fellow one day entered, and the porter made his demand. Hunch-back protested that he would pay nothing. The porter immediately laid hands upon him, and accidentally raising his cap, discovered that he was one-eyed also. He demanded two pennies forthwith. The other still more vehemently opposed, and would have fled; but the porter catching hold of his head, the cap came off, and disclosed a bald scabby surface. Whereupon he required three pennies. Hunch-back, very much enraged, persisted in his refusal, and began to struggle with the determined porter. This produced an exposure of his arms, by which it became manifest that he was leprous. The fourth penny was therefore laid claim to; and the scuffle continuing, revealed a rupture, which entitled him to a fifth. Thus, a fellow unjustly refusing to pay a rightful demand of one penny, was necessitated, much against his inclination, to pay five[1].


My beloved, the emperor is Christ. The porter is any prelate, or discreet confessor; the city is the world. The diseased man is a sinner.


  1. This tale is in Alphonsus, and the Cento Novelle Antiche, Nov. 50.