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The Marriage of Signor Cajusse

The Marriage of Signor Cajusse.1

There was a rich farmer 2  who had one only daughter, and she was to be his heiress. She fell in love with a count who had no money—at least only ten scudi a month. When he went to the farmer to ask her in marriage he would not hear of the alliance, and sent him away.

But the girl and he were bent on the marriage, and this is how they brought it about. The girl had a thousand scudi of her own; half of this she gave to him, and said: ‘Go over a certain tract of the Campagna and visit all the peasants about, and give five piastres to one and ten to another according to their degree, that they may say when they are asked that they all belong to Signor Cajusse. Then take papa round to hear what they say, and he will think you are a great proprietor, and will let us marry.'

Signor Cajusse, for such was his name, took the money and did as she told him, and then hired a carriage and came to her father, and said: ‘You are quite mistaken in thinking I'm too poor to marry your daughter; come and take a drive with me, and I will show you what a great man I am.'

So the farmer got into his carriage, and he drove him round to all the peasants he had bribed. First they stopped at a farm.3

‘Good morning, Signor Cajusse,' said the tenant, who had been duly primed, bowing down to the ground; and then he began to tell him about his crops, as if he had been really proprietor.

After this he proposed to walk a little way, and all the labourers left their work and flocked after him, crying, ‘Good day, Signor Cajusse; health to you and long life, and may God prosper you!' and they tried to kiss his hand.

Further along they came to a villa where Cajusse had ascertained that the real proprietor would not come that day. Here he went straight up to the casino, where the servant in charge, who had been also duly bribed, received him with all the honours due to a master.

‘Welcome, Signor Cajusse,' he said, and opened the doors and shutters and set the chairs.

‘Bring a little of that fine eight-year-old wine,' ordered Cajusse; ‘we have brought a packet of biscuits, and will have some luncheon.'4

‘Very good, Signor Cajusse,' replied the servant respectfully, and shortly after brought in a bottle of wine handed to him for the purpose by Cajusse the day before. When they had drunk they took a stroll round the place, and wherever they turned the labourers all had a greeting and a blessing for Signor Cajusse.

When the merchant saw all this he hardly knew how to forgive himself for having run the risk of losing such a son-in-law. He was all smiles and civility as they drove home, and the next day was as anxious to hurry on the match as he had been before to put it off. As all were equally in a hurry to have it, of course it was not long before it was celebrated. With the girl's remaining five hundred scudi a handsome apartment was hired to satisfy appearances before the parents, and for a few days they lived on what was left over.

They sat counting their last two or three scudi. ‘What is to be done now?' said Cajusse; ‘that will soon be spent, and then how are we to live?'

‘I'll set it right,' answered the bride. ‘Now we're married that's all that signifies. Now it's done they can't help it.'

So she went to her mother and told her all, and the good woman, knowing the thing could not be altered, talked over the father; and he gave them something to live upon and found a place for Cajusse, and they were very happy.

1 ‘I Matrimonio del Signor Cajusse.' This story, it will be seen, is altogether disconnected with the other of the same name at p. 158–69, and it is curious so similar a title should be appended to so dissimilar a story. It has not half the humour of Mr. Campbell's ‘Baillie Lunnain,' No. xvii. b. Vol. i., but is sufficiently like to pair off against it. It is also observable for representing exactly the proceeding of the ‘Marquis di Carabas' in ‘Puss in Boots.' 

2 ‘Mercante di Campagna,' see n. 2, p. 154. 

3 ‘Tenuta,' a farm; a holding. 

4 ‘Merenda,' see n. 7, p. 155.