Madonna Zilla

Madonna Zilla

Adapted from Matteo di Bandello

 Long ago in Italy, there was a young man named Filiberto. Filiberto was deeply in love with Zilla. Zilla was so beautiful. 

One day, Filiberto’s friend was worried about Filiberto.  Poor Filiberto wouldn’t eat. He wouldn’t sleep. Filiberto’s friend felt sorry for him. So he made a romantic plan.

The friend arrived at Zilla’s house. He said, “Roses! Roses for sale!” He pretended to sell roses. Zilla loved the roses. She stopped and said, “Hello, How much money do you want for this rose?”

“No money. It’s free for you,” he said with a smile.

“What? Is this a game?,” said Zilla.

“My friend, Filiberto, loves you very much, so he sent me. Filiberto wants to give you these roses as a gift. Filiberto loves you,” he said.

Zilla was surprised and confused. She did not like Filiberto’s game. “I want to speak to Filiberto directly,” she said.

Quickly, the friend went to Filiberto. He told Filiberto that Zilla wanted to speak to him. Filiberto’s heart filled with hope. He smiled and said, “Finally, I will speak with the most beautiful woman, Zilla.”

Filiberto arrived at Zilla’s house. He smiled at the beautiful Zilla. “I love you, Zilla! I am your loyal servant,” said Filiberto.

“I did not like your little game,” said Zilla. She said to Filiberto, “You don’t know me! You don’t love me!”

Filiberto loved Zilla very much. He was steadfast. He repeated, “I love you. Please, I will do anything. I just ask for a kiss.”

“You will do anything?” she said.

“Yes, anything,” says Filiberto, “I will do anything you command.”

But Zilla thought Filiberto was playing a game. She thought he did not really love her.  Zilla’s heart hardened and she made a plan. She smiled and said, “Will you do anything?” 

Filiberto smiled. “Yes, anything! What do you command?” said Filiberto.

Zilla commanded, “If you love me, you will not speak for three years.”

Filiberto’s smile disappeared. It was an impossible command. But Filiberto loved Zilla so much!  He did not speak. Sadly, he went home. His heart was broken.

The days passed. His friend saw that he was silent. He felt sorry for poor Filiberto. Filiberto was so embarrased. Filiberto didn’t want anyone to feel sorry for him. So he went off.

Filiberto went to France to fight in the war.  Filiberto was very courageous. He was such a courageous soldier, everyone loved him. One day, Filiberto and other soldiers arrived at a bridge. The enemy was attacking the bridge. But no soldier wanted to go out on the bridge.

Filiberto was so sad. He couldn’t talk. He couldn’t make friends. He couldn’t be with Zilla. He said to himself, “I don’t want to live without Zilla.” Filiberto walked sadly to the bridge. He went out to meet the enemy. He fought with so much courage. The men were amazed!  Filiberto was so courageous, they wanted to go out on the bridge, too! Filiberto and his courageous friends won the battle. They won victory for France!

News about Filberto traveled to France. In fact, news traveled to the King of France. The king was amazed. He commanded Filiberto to visit him. When Filiberto arrived at the royal court, the king wanted to talk to him. The king commanded, “Filiberto, you are the bravest and most loyal man in my army! You will command my entire army!”

Two years passed.  Filiberto did not speak.  He said to himself, “Zilla’s command was cruel, but I love her!”   Filiberto was steadfast. He would not speak.

Filiberto’s army won victory after victory.  Finally, France won the war! The king was amazed at Filiberto. He was the greatest captain! The king gave Filiberto castles and money. Filiberto was so sad without Zilla. He could not talk to the king or anyone. The king felt sorry for his sad friend.

The king commanded: “To anyone who helps Filiberto speak, I will give 10,000 francs!”

News traveled all over France. Thousands of doctors and experts arrived. But no doctor could help Filiberto. The king was frustrated. He thought they were frauds! So the king commanded: “I will pay anyone who helps Filiberto speak 10,000 francs!  Anyone who fails, will be executed.”

Eventually, news traveled to Italy. In fact, Zilla got the news about Filiberto. She was amazed! She thought he went off to France because he did not love her.  Now, Zilla thought, “Filberto really loves me!”

Zilla traveled to France, to the capital. She arrived at the royal court. Zilla said to the king, “Majesty, I will help Filiberto speak.” The king said, “Are you certain? If Filberto does not speak, you will be executed.” But Zilla said, “Yes, I am certain. I will help Filiberto speak or die. I love him.”  

The king felt sorry for the beautiful Zilla. He commanded Zilla to meet Filiberto.  When Zilla arrived, Filiberto’s heart stopped. He could not speak!  Zilla was just as beautiful as before. 

Zilla smiled at Filiberto. Her heart was filled with love. “Filiberto, it is me, Zilla. Now, I see that you love me. I’m sorry for my command. Now, I want you to speak,” said Zilla.

Filiberto was amazed. “Zilla finally wants me to speak?” he thought hopefully. Then Filiberto thought about how sad he was.  Zilla’s command caused two years of torment! Filiberto’s heart hardened. “Zilla just wants 10,000 Francs,” he thought, “After two years, it is not a coincidence that she wants me to speak now.”

“Filberto, please speak!” said Zilla. She smiled and reached out to Filiberto.  

But Filiberto refused. He would not speak. His heart was hardened.

“Please, I’m sorry. Please, speak,” says Zilla.

But Filiberto would not speak. Zilla began to cry. Filiberto was touched. He loved Zilla, but he hated her, too. Filiberto was so confused.

After a time, the king commanded Zilla to come back. Zilla arrived at the royal court.  The king said, “Did Filiberto speak?”

“No,” said Zilla, “So I will die. I don’t want to live without Filiberto.”

The king felt sorry for Zilla. But sadly, the king had to command Zilla’s execution. 

At that moment, Filiberto arrived. Finally, he spoke. The king was amazed. Finally, his friend spoke!

Filiberto said, “I loved Zilla. I would have done anything for Zilla. But she played a cruel game with my heart. She commanded me not to speak for three years.”

“I’m sorry. You went off. I thought you did not love me,” said Zilla sadly.

The king felt sorry for the loyal Filiberto and the beautiful Zilla. “She says she loves you,” said the king. “She says she would die without you.” 

“I am rich. She wants my castles and money. She wants the 10,000 Francs,” said Filiberto sadly.

“No,” said Zilla, who cried and cried. She said again and again “I am sorry” and “I love you.” But it was impossible. Filiberto did not think she really loved him.

Filiberto said to a soldier, “Here is money for the voyage. Escort Zilla to Italy.” Zilla went off sadly. Her heart was broken.

As the beautiful Zilla went, the royal court, the king, and even Filiberto were heartbroken.

The days passed and Filiberto wouldn’t speak. He wouldn’t eat or sleep. The king felt sorry for Filiberto. He presented him with a beautiful princess. They married. Filiberto went back to the army. But Filiberto’s heart was hardened and he never loved again.