The curate reads the tale of "The Ill-Advised Curiosity."
Two wealthy gentleman live in Florence who have many things in common, and thus are great friends. Anselmo was more inclined to seek love than Lothario, who was more interested in the chase than in conquest.
Anselmo was in love with a lady called Camilla and asked his friend to negotiate a marriage for him. Lothario was successful, much to the pleasure of Anselmo and Camilla.
After the marriage, Lothario stops visiting Anselmo as often--thinking it isn't proper to visit his friend as much as he did before the marriage...and he doesn't want to invite malicious gossip. Anselmo complains of this, vowing he would never have married if he had known it would interfere with is friendship with Lothario. He assures Lothario Camilla wouldn't mind.
Lothario agrees to visit more often, but he cautions Anselmo he should be more careful about who he invites to his home--just as he should be concerned about what friends Camilla keeps company with. He tells Anselmo that he needs a friend who will point out his flaws that might damage his marriage.
One day, Anselmo confides to Lothario that he wants to test Camilla, for he is not convinced she is as good and pure as she seems to be. Why should she enjoy such a reputation if she isn't tempted and proves it? He wants Lothario to seduce Camilla.
Lothario is repulsed by the idea. Why does Anselmo need to test a woman whose reputation is established? He is disrespecting a blessing and potentially damaging the relationship. Camilla can't rise above her reputation if she succeeds, and Anselmo risks losing her if she doesn't. He'll bring her to potential ruin, as well as himself. Women are imperfect, and their virtue should be protected--not tempted.
Not only that, Lothario would damage his own reputation. Camilla would consider him dishonorable. He would rather lose Anselmo as a friend than be used in such a vile fashion.
Anselmo is determined to go through with the plan. Worrying he'll get someone else to do it, Lothario agrees to do it. However, Lothario has a scheme of his own that won't injure Camilla but deceive Anselmo.
Anselmo invites Lothario to dinner. He then asks Camilla to entertain Lothario while he goes out. Lothario tells her he is tired, and he goes to sleep on the couch. She returns to her room. When Anselmo returns, Lothario told him he didn't think it was wise to seduce her the first time. He flattered her to get her ready for a future seduction.
Anselmo arranges several meetings, and Lothario reports that Camilla is resisting him. Anselmo then decides to have him offer presents, which tends to weaken most women. However, Anselmo is becoming suspicious--and he locks himself in another room. He watches as Lothario and Camilla say nothing to each other. When he asks Lothario later what Camilla did, he says she dismissed him in anger. Anselmo reveals that he knows he is lying. Lothario, ashamed, vows to find out the truth without deception.
Anselmo goes out of town, telling Camilla she is to entertain Lothario. She is distressed, for it isn't a proper request. However, she obeys her husband. Camilla makes certain that the servants are always around her. However, one of the servants is not always inclined to obey orders and leaves them alone.
Lothario really admires Camilla, and he doesn't think Anselmo deserves her. Therefore, he decides to betray his friend. He begins to court Camilla. She writes to her husband.
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