Day 1 Story 5 of the Decameron is about a King who visits the estate of a Marquis and Marchioness during the former's absence with the intent of wooing the latter. She understands his intent and prepares for him, with all due courtesy and respect, a many-course banquet where every dish is chicken. The King asks her about the food and she replies:
“ Madam, do hens grow in this country without so much as a single cock? ” The Marchioness, who perfectly apprehended the drift of the question, saw in it an opportunity, sent her by God, of evincing her virtuous resolution; so casting a haughty glance upon the King she answered thus: “ Sire, no; but the women, though they may differ somewhat from others in dress and rank, are yet of the same nature here as elsewhere. ” The significance of the banquet of pullets was made manifest to the King by these words, as also the virtue which they veiled. He perceived that on a lady of such a temper words would be wasted, and that force was out of the question.
The specific significance is lost on me, except for the obvious notion that she wanted him to feel welcome but not too welcome. The story seems to be implying some deeper connection between the nature of the banquet and the nature of the King's intentions, and also some deeper significance to the precise words of their exchange (or at least her reply). But I'm not getting it. Is there some double entendre in the original Italian, perhaps?