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THE PENTAMERONE.

fold, by giving her some good information about her arrival at the mountain; and that he was sorry he could not accompany her thither, since his old-age, which was condemned rather to go down than up, obliged him to remain at the foot of those mountains, to cast up accounts with the clerks of Time, which are the labours, the sufferings and the infirmities of life, and to pay the debt of Nature. So the old man said to her, "Now, my pretty innocent child, listen to me: you must know that on the top of this mountain you will find a ruined house, which was built long ago time out of mind: the walls are cracked, the foundations crumbling away, the doors worm-eaten, the furniture all worn out, and in short everything is gone to wrack and ruin. On one side are seen shattered columns, on another broken statues, and nothing is left in a good state except a coat-of-arms over the door, quartered, on which you will see a serpent biting its tail, a stag, a raven, and a phœnix[1]. When you enter, you will see on the ground files, saws, scythes, sickles, pruning-hooks, and hundreds and hundreds of vessels full of ashes, with the names written on them, like gallipots in an apothecary's shop; and there may be read Corinth, Saguntum, Carthage, Troy, and a thousand other cities, the ashes of which Time preserves as trophies of his conquests.

  1. Symbols of eternity, swiftness, great age, and resurrection.