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 Chapter IV

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Cecilia Gallerani
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PostSubject: Chapter IV   Sat Mar 19, 2011 3:27 am

Rome, Italy: 1494
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Afonso das Neves
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PostSubject: The Next Morning   Sat Mar 19, 2011 3:37 am

Afonso had no idea how he managed to arrive home the next morning. His headache was intense and all he could think about were her lips, her touch, and her golden hair…Luisa. The name kept appearing in his mind, as well as flashes of the night spent with her at one of the chambers of the Palazzo di Orsini.

The sunlight was too strong for his eyes and he tumbled on the steps of his house. A servant helped him to enter the house and Afonso dragged himself to a room, where a comfortable armchair waited for him. He got rid of his shoes and he sniffed his jacket, but her scent wasn’t there. After all, the jacket had been the first piece of clothing he’d removed and so had escaped Luisa’s experienced hands.

Afonso placed a hand over his forehead and moaned, complaining to himself about the headache.

“No more wine next time,” he lectured himself. Then he took out of his pocket an empty velvet pouch. It had been full of coins at the beginning of the night, before he had lost everything in the game. His mind was in a swirl, trying to recall whom he had asked a loan, how much exactly he had lost, what his hands were. But Luisa kept coming to his mind, her hands on him, he soft laugh, and the whispered words of love.

“So there will be a next time…”a soft voice spoke on the other side of the room. Afonso raised his head and he was about to ask a servant what this beautiful young lady was doing at his house when suddenly all the answer came like sharp daggers. It only made his headache grow.

He had forgotten about Clarice. He did not realize at the palazzo that he was married now. A hint of guilt started to arose but the shame was even bigger. He knew he was blushing, because his cheeks were getting warm. He looked down, remembering the unsuccessful wedding night.

There had been this moment of tenderness when their eyes met and he had foreseen love. But then Clarice turned her head away and he could only read fear in her action. She was still young, and even if they were married, Afonso didn’t felt it was his right to hurt her. So he walked away, planning to console himself with a good card game. He was looking for the card table when he found Luisa.

But now Luisa wasn’t there. Clarice de’ Medici was judging him and he knew that. He knew she was probably seeing a drunken, foreign sailor, with his hair too long and an earring pierced to his ear. Not a decent husband, for certain. He looked to his hands and then stood up very fast; trying to ignore the fact Clarice was still observing him. He searched in all his pockets, trying to remember where he had put it. Finally Afonso sighed in relief, taking his wedding ring from the pocket of his shirt.

Thank God he did not bet it in the game. At least he had the good sense to keep the ring.

He put his wedding ring on his finger and sat again. Then he finally met Clarice’s eyes. They were blue like his beloved ocean. Afonso felt like he could lose himself in those eyes if he looked too much at them. Last night it had been dark but now as the sunlight entered by the windows he could see Clarice’s eyes for the first time. He could not stop staring at them. She moved her head with impatience and finally he spoke, in a low tone:

“Good morning little wife. How are you today?”
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Clarice de' Medici

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PostSubject: Re: Chapter IV   Sat Mar 19, 2011 3:38 am

Morning came, and found the young bride already risen, dressed in her plainest household gown, wearing a linen cuffia to befit her new status. She had braided up her maidenly locks, and rolled it all under the frumpy cap, in the manner that befit a married woman. There was a certain irony to this, despite the inevitable truth of the matter: she was still a virgin.

Her needle stabbed through and up the face of the linen cloth she was embroidering – a shirt for her new husband. She had begun this shirt before they were married, and, with what she considered now was a child’s fancy, had put little stars of white thread across the neck and cuffs, so that on his voyages, he would always have the stars to find his bearing, and would not lose his place across the endless ocean. The needle stabbed through the linen again, and this time, into her finger. A tiny, vermillion spot appeared on the collar of her lord’s shirt, between two bright stars. She sucked on her finger, on the bitter salt taste of her own blood, and cursed her foolishness.

When she looked up, she saw a dishevelled figure sitting in front of the bright window. She recognised her husband, dressed exactly as he had been the night before, though decidedly for the worse. The fool was muttering to himself; and when he finally realised she was there, he had the gall to bid her a good morning, and to ask how she was.

“I am well.” She glanced at his state of disarray pointedly. “And how are you, my lord?”

She knew not to ask where he had been, or where he had acquired those stains on his wedding clothes, or why it seemed that he had not slept a wink. Her mother’s firm lecture on wifely duties returned to her, and she remained silent.

“Terrible headache,” he responded lightly. “I... tend to be fragile in the mornings, my lady.”

She said nothing to indicate her scepticism. “I am sorry to hear of your ailment, husband.” Her gaze returned to her embroidery. “Might some rest make you feel better?”

“Yes, that generally makes me feel better, my lady. But since we are here little wife, may you tell me what happened last night?”

“Last night, my lord? I think you should know that as well as me, if not better.”

“So it did not happen then.” He seemed puzzled.

“What did not happen?”

“Our wedding night.”

She gave an incredulous laugh. “Were you that drunk?”

Her husband stared out the window, avoiding her gaze. “I lost the count of the cups I drank, to be honest.”

She looked at him with an expression of disgust on her face, but remained mute. There was no point in saying something offensive now – it would only compound the situation between them.

“I wasn't drunk then,” he explained in haste. “Only after.”

She still said nothing.

“Are you always so quiet, little wife? Or is just me who tends to cause that effect on you?”

Her expression was cool. “I don’t speak when speaking would achieve nothing.”

“You are upset with me. Of course. But I won’t apologize because I know you will not forgive me.”

“Then I expect we shall enjoy one another’s company silently,” she replied calmly. Her needle stabbed through the muslin.

“Then I do not want your company at all. For that I prefer a good glass of wine.”

“So I’ve married a drunkard as well as a fool.”

“Did they not inform you of that before, my lady?”

She shrugged carelessly. “I had hoped it was merely slander.”

“Then I am sorry that your hopes were reduced, little wife.”

“Yes. I can see now that my hopes meant nothing.”

He looked at her penetratingly. “Any other hopes my lady?”

She gave him a frigid look. “Yes. Perhaps I had hoped I would have a real husband this morning. That I might have woken up in his arms and felt that all was right in the world.”

“And they promised me wife. Not a daughter.”

She looked hurt. “In the eyes of the law, I am your wife. In the eyes of the law, I am no child.”

“But in my eyes, you are a child. I tend to ignore the law. Little daughter.” He laughed.

She barely refrained herself from calling him a brute, her cheeks burning with anger at his boorishness and shame at her own inadequacy as a wife.

Her husband emitted a dry laugh. “Silence again. They should have told me this wonderful quality of yours, my lady.”

“Unlike you, I stay silent if I have nothing polite to say!”

“No need for ceremonies, my lady. You can say whatever you like.”

She eyed him with disdain. “It is not my place to judge you.”

“You have done so with your eyes. You can judge with your mouth as well.”

“I won’t give you reason to complain about my behaviour.”

“You just did my lady. Those silences upset me.”

“I just want to be a good wife to you,” she said vulnerably. “I am doing my best.”


*********

This post was written with the help of my 'dear' husband.
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Renata Ferrari

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PostSubject: In mourning   Sun Mar 20, 2011 4:41 am




With death of Renata’s father, Ambrogio Lorenzo de Ferrari, Duke de Ferrara passing away in death. The arrangements for Duke de Ferrari’s funeral is being planned by his son, Cardinal Francesco and to have their father be buried in Rome. Cardinal Francesco sent out a letter to his elder siblings to let then know of their father’s death, whether or not they will come is different matter.



The following morning as the sun slowly rises over the mountains in the east, as I thought I could hear birds singing outside of my bedroom window. Thinking nothing of it, I rolled back to sleep. Sometime later on in the morning, one of the maids entered into my bedchambers and began slowly opening curtains from the windows. Hearing the curtains being drawn revealing the sunshine through the windows, I slowly opened my eyes to see Mercedes and Dolores entering into the room as the maid curtsey before me and then left the room.

“Good Morning, milady. How you this morning?” I heard Dolores said to me smiling as she walked over to another window.

“I’m doing all right, Dolores.” I replied back to her as I watched both Dolores and Mercedes move about my bedroom getting everything prepared for the day. I continued on to say to both of them, “yesterday was like blur. With my father passing away to the Holy Angels. I feel like there is a apart of me missing.“ as I got out of my bed and grabbed my silk robe from a nearby chair and put it on as I walked over towards the table near the window and looked out on such a lovely view gardens; which was situated back of the castle in the courtyard.

“True, milady.” Mercedes spoke up. I heard her asked me, “would like your riding clothes laid out this morning.”

“There will be no riding today, Mercedes, at least not for a while. Please lay out my mourning gown.” I replied back to her sadly. Seeing Mercedes nodded in reply and walked way from me. It was about the same time that I saw Elisabete entered into my bedchambers.

“Elisabete, good morning.” I greeted Elisabete, as she walked over to me.

“Good morning, my lady.” Elisabete replied back. She went on, “Just wanted to let you know that your bath is drawn for you.”

“Thank you, Elisabete.“ as I thanked her. I headed off towards the bathroom.


++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++


Meanwhile was I was in the bath, both Mercedes and Dolores were going about my bedchambers cleaning and getting out my black silk gown for mourning. Elisabete left my bedchambers to my breakfast tray from the kitchen. The entire household including the servants were greatly sadden to hear of the loss of their master, Duke de Ferrara.

Cardinal Francesco, late Duke de Ferrara’s son asked the everyone to get the Palazzo into full mourning.


++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++


It was about twenty minutes later that I came out of the bathroom dressed in my silk robe and found my dark blue to almost black cotton velvet mourning gown laid out upon my bed and at the foot of my bed was a matching pair of ankle high boots. Seeing this I walked over towards my bed undoing my robe ties as in preparing to get dressed.

With the help from Mercedes and Dolores, I went from my silk robe to my linen drawers and then my kirtle; which was then covered my chemise. This was done before I put on my mourning gown.

With the help from both Mercedes and Dolores, I put on my morning gown of dark blue to almost black cotton velvet with dark bluish-golden thread pattern that has been imprinted onto the velvet mourning gown. Once the gown was on, I put on dark blue to ebony ankle high boots. Finally dressed, I walked over and sat down at my vanity table put on my gold and pearl floral necklace as well as my earrings before having Mercedes brushing my long wavy golden hair. After brushing my hair, and with the help from Dolores, braided my hair with dark bluish-golden thread amongst my golden hair and wrapped the braided hair around my head like a circlet. Finally finished dressing, I stood up in my mourning gown and walked over towards the mirror and looked at myself and made sure that everything was in place.

During the time that I was dressing, I saw the reflection of the looking glass, Elisabete walking back into the room with tray loaded with food, ranging from fruits to cheese, bread and pitcher of mead for breakfast with Dolores following behind her.

“Milady, the breakfast has arrived.” Elisabete said to me smiling as she placed the breakfast tray down on nearby table.

“Grazie, Elisabete.“ I replied back to her smiling. I then sent on to say to her and those in my bedchambers, “Come let us have breakfast.”

With that said, my Ladies-in-Waiting and I sat down at the table and began to have breakfast and began to talk about this and that.


++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++


Sometime later after breakfast was over, my Ladies-in-Waiting left my bedchambers and headed downstairs and were met by my elder brother, Cardinal Francesco in the main hallway.

“Good morning, dear brother.” I said to him.

“Good morning, sweet Ren.” my brother Francesco replied back to me smiling. He then asked me, “Come. Let us take a walk in the gardens.” as my brother offered his arm to me and I took it and we headed towards the sitting room and through the doors we both walked outside onto the courtyard patio and stepped down from the patio onto the garden path and began to slowly walk along the bath talking to what has happened overnight with the death of our beloved father.

“Francesco, have you told Marco or Stefano about father‘s death?” I asked him curiously.

“Si, Ren, I sent them a letter with a messenger yesterday.” my brother replied back to me. He then continued on to say, “I’m waiting for their reply.”

“We need to start making preparations for his burial, Francesco, with or without Marco and Stefano.” I said to him as I stopped suddenly and turned and faced my Cardinal brother, Francesco.

“I know, Ren. I know.“ Francesco replied back to me agreeing to what I said to him. He then continued, “I would like their opinion on how to proceed in these matters. Whether they want to have father returned to Fiorenza and be buried our ancestors at Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore or to be buried in Rome at the Basilica of St. Mary of the Altar of Heaven.”

“I agree, Francesco.” I replied back to him nodding my head. We then continued in our walk in the garden making preparations for our father’s funeral as well as other preparations for the Palazzo and so forth. But as for myself I wasn’t in the mood for any of this…preparations….my father has just died and here I am dressed in full morning.

What will become of me?’ was the thought that came into my mind.




tbc......

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Catarina de' Medici

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PostSubject: Caught by a Bull   Sun Mar 20, 2011 5:00 am

“Are you sure about this? If your brother sees---“

“Perio, how many times must I tell you, that he is not my brother!” Catarina said coming out of the shadows and into the moonlight to face her lover.

“He is your brother by blood---“

“He is my half brother and only just.”

“Catarina, what if his spies---“ Catarina glared darkly at Perio’s dark eyes.

“I don’t give a damn if his spies find me. Let them all burn in hell for all I care. Let me burn in hell for spying on them and reporting their doings to the Po---“

Before she could say another word, Perio put his hand over her mouth, and shoved Catarina up against a wall. Just as a young man, much near Catarina’s own age walked lazily by. He pretended to be drunk. But Catarina was certain he was not. She looked desperately into Perio’s eyes, as he lifted out a dagger of his robes. He turned, but the man was gone. As soon, as he was certain everything was safe, he lifted his hand from Catarina’s mouth.

“You were saying?” he asked brushing off his robes. Catarina glared at him, turned around and climbed up a vine along a wall without another word to Perio.

Perio simply sighed, and followed suit. “Do you even know if this is Rodrigo’s apartment?” He whispered up to her. Catarina shrugged.

“One of these windows is his--- Oh, here it is!” She said and suddenly tumbled into the room. She heard a scream, and a clattering of something, and then she was roughly pulled up by none other than Rodrigo himself. He sighed, and let her go as soon as Peiro came into view.

“You stupid girl, I nearly killed you!” Rodrigo said, righted her up again and gently smoothing out her cloak and dress.

“Did you think I was here to kill you?” Catarina asked a bit shaken. Perio rolled his eyes.

“She didn’t mean to frighten you. She’s simply…” Rodrigo held up his hand and cut Perio off before he could finish explaining whatever he thought Catarina was.

“Enough, Perio, we can forgive her this time. I believe you have something to tell me?” Rodrigo said coming down to Catarina’s eye level.

Never having been so close to the Pope before, Catarina gulped. She looked over into the corner of the room where two equally beautiful women sat, playing chess. One, of the women with fiery red hair much like Catarina’s own, nodded encouraging her. She swallowed and looked back towards Rodrigo.

“Only that with my sister’s wedding the Medici have now become allied with Giuliano della Rovere one of your enemies. He has been to the house frequently of late. I believe there may be a plot going on.” Catarina finally all but blurted out. She did could feel Perio smirking behind her because she had called Cecilia her sister. But he said nothing of this in the presence of the Pope.

The woman with the red hair in the corner playing chess, stared at her for a moment, then, lowered her eyes, and continued the game. Catarina herself felt like she was one of those figures being moved around on the chess board. She looked back up at Rodrigo.

“Are you sure?” He asked seeming a bit taken back. She nodded. “Then, this is what I ask of you little Medici. To spy on your family for me. I wish for you to keep an eye on these visits from Della Rovere. Keep track of what is said and what goes on. Report everything to me, and I shall reward you, dear child.” He said gently touching her cheek. For a moment, Catarina was reminded of her papa and she felt tears sting her eyes. She blinked them back. It wouldn’t do to cry in front of the pope.

“Now then,” Rodrigo said standing up. “We cannot have the two of you wandering back to the Medici household in the dark. Who knows what could happen.” Rodrigo said this while eying Perio who nodded and Catarina had a distant feeling that the Pope knew of the man outside the Vatican. “So, one of the maids will show the two of you to a room for the night.”

“Thank you sir. We greatly appreciate it.” Perio said, as he gently took Catarina’s hand.

*****


Written with the help of Cecilia Gallerani
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Afonso das Neves
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PostSubject: Dinner   Mon Mar 21, 2011 3:53 am

Afonso spent most of the day sleeping and recovering from his hangover. He felt the urge to talk to his uncle, tell him everything about his wedding night, and the way he had spend it in the arms of another woman, who was not his wife. But then he was assaulted by the shame of it, and so he just spent the day in his chambers. He could still fix this, he thought. Tonight he should go to Clarice’s chambers and consummate their marriage.

He dressed himself to have dinner with his wife. He had the care to take off his earring that his uncle so much disapproved and he had also tried to do something with his hair although he was not very successful.

They met at the door. Afonso noticed that like in the morning she was dressing simple robes although now she was wearing a necklace and a pair of small earrings. He smiled and greeted her, accompanying her to the dining table. He helped Clarice to sit down and then he sat next to her, the servants ready to serve dinner.

At first they did not talk, both focused on their meal. But then Afonso told in a humble tone:
“I think I owe you an apologize for everything, my lady. My behaviour last time, and this morning as well, was regretful. I am ashamed of the way I acted. I beg your indulgence, little wife, and I hope tonight you’ll allow me to come to your chambers.”

Silence for a moment as Clarice sipped some wine from her glass then she looked him in the eyes and nodded.

“You can come to chambers tonight, my lord. Or any other night you wish. It is my duty to be there waiting for you.”

“Very well. I shall come tonight then. And I promise everything shall be fine. We will finally consummate the wedding and hopefully be happy together, little wife. Who knows if soon you will be expecting a child, hmm?” He smiled and Clarice gave him a small smile back. He touched her hand and thanked her for this chance to mend things between them.

They were in silence again when the main course arrived. It was a fish dish and Afonso devoured it all, since he had not eaten early. The food was just delicious, and he could understand why every time he saw his uncle he seemed a little fatter. The cardinals would have eaten even better than them, certainly. Afonso looked at Clarice’s plate. She had not eaten much and the head of the fish was untouched.

“You don’t like the head my lady?”

Her head shook a ‘no’.

“Can I have it then? It is the best part of the fish, and it will be such a waste to throw it out just like that…”

Clarice observed incredulously as his husband took the fish’s head from her plate to his. In her eyes he was this barbaric man who devoured the food almost without chewing, obviously present lack of etiquette.

A moment after Afonso ended his dish, a servant interrupted the meal with a letter addressed to his name. Afonso opened the document right away under Clarice’s attentive eyes. He read the lines fast and then stood up. His wife looked at him with her inquiring blue eyes. Afonso smiled.

“Do not worry, little wife. This will not take long. I promise.” Afonso kissed the top her head tenderly, before leaving the room in order to meet with Luisa Orsini.
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Clarice de' Medici

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PostSubject: False Light   Mon Mar 21, 2011 3:54 am

Clarice gazed into the gold-gilt mirror that hung like a waxing moon above her washbasin, wondering what it was in her pale beauty that failed to please her husband. Her small, full mouth made a little moue of frustration, straightened as she realised it made her look childish, and settled into a firm line, the habitual pinched expression of the unhappy housewife, of most Roman women, and her own indomitable mother.

The two years since her betrothal had seen her blossom into this current ripeness that she had grown so confident in. Her face might have been as small and delicate as ever, but her figure had filled out a little, losing the coltishness that had inspired the dance master’s complaints against her inelegance of limb two summers ago. And so what if her bust did not sit so full and high beneath the square necklines of the new trousseau gowns as she might have wanted? Or if her hips were still a trifle on the slender side? She was a young woman of fifteen, in her bloom, no child to be teased and trifled with.

But she would not blossom long, in this infernal city; bartered for the benefit of a political connection to the most irresponsible fool of the Portuguese nobility. She was convinced she would die young of his gaming, his whoring, his barbarity. And if he did not usher her into her early grave, then surely this city would.

This dull, sombre city, with its pagan presence, and its dark-clothed women and their thick beige veils; you would think she had come not to the Center of the World, but to its last forgotten outpost, standing against the precipice of barbarism, populated by almost-heathens. The autumn air was choked by the memory of summer, and gasped for breath amidst the stinking, busy markets and overflowing ancient sewage pipes. And even in the heat, everyone dressed like widows, in high-cut gowns of plain dark material, nary anything more elaborate than a cotta graced the back of a marriageable young woman out and about on her business. Stolid and stifling as fustian was this Urbs Aeterna Romanum, this supposed heir to glories of Tiberius and Augustus.

She recalled, with a tinge of self-disdain, how she had dreamed of Rome as a child, fuelled by her father’s fascination for the footprints of the Emperors. She had looked upon Botticelli’s paintings and imagined Rome bathed with that same golden twilight – the perfect city, the heir of ancient glory and the centre of modern faith.

But, like the light painted by Botticelli’s hand, it was all false. There was no real perspective in this elegant tableau of the perfect city; the shell upon whose edge Venus stood would topple over in reality; and not even goddesses had such elongated necks, nor highlights of gold-leaf in their hair. The young bride had deceived herself headlong, and was now drowning in the real waves of the ocean that lapped at the shores upon which Venus embarked – the real edge of the scallop shell was sharp, and sliced a bloody wound in her foot. Reality bit sharply.

She emerged after a solemn morning’s preparations into the sitting room which she spent her time in, when she was not negotiating the supper menu with the cook, bartering servants’ wages with the housekeeper, or discussing the virtues of certain topiaries with the gardener. She had taken quickly to her new duties in the household, and it gave her true pleasure to be mistress of her own house at last, free to give all manner of extravagant and childish instructions to the servants, request dessert thrice a day from the cook, and capriciously refuse to touch the simple lunch she was offered by the wayside. This miniature world was hers to command, and she abused her newfound power with all the gusto of a young tyrant.

The sitting room was not empty when she passed through the painted double-doors. Perched upon the tasselled divan was her Isabetta, her solemn face gazing sensibly at the fireplace.

“Clarice?” she asked, gauchely.

The young bride closed the door behind her. “Yes, it is I.”

“You owe me many details!”

Clarice’s expression fell, even if Isabetta saw no benefit by it. She sat next to her on the divan. “He has not...we have not consummated the marriage.”

“Have not?” Isabetta repeated.

“The first night, he touched me a little...he...put his hand under my chemise. But after that, he kissed me and said good night. He promised to come again last night, but he did not return from the business he had would detain him only briefly.” Her voice crackled slightly in her welling despair.

Isabetta fell silent. The young Orsini seemed to set aside her doubts for a moment, and attempted a light smile. “How do you like the house?”

Clarice astonished herself by bursting into tears as she fell into Isabetta’s pliant embrace.

“Oh Clarice! What is the matter?”

“Oh, nothing at all!” she pleaded back. “I have....I have...curtains...of velvet!”

Isabetta did not need to observe that velvet curtains were hardly worth bawling one’s eyes out over; it was obvious that the tears were unrelated to the draperies of her windows.

“Yes, yes, I know. Shh,” she said soothingly, rocking her back and forth slightly. “It will get better, I know it.”

“H-how can you be so sure?” sputtered Clarice in between fits of angry tears. “You’ve never been married. You’ve never even held on to a betrothal.”

Her friend ignored the unintended barbs. “I know because it cannot be God’s will to make you so unhappy for long.”

They remained there for the rest of the afternoon in low spirits.
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Renata Ferrari

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PostSubject: A secrecy that I shouldn’t know   Mon Mar 21, 2011 8:21 am




My beloved brother, Cardinal Francesco and I continued in our walk in the garden making preparations for our father’s funeral as well as other preparations for the Palazzo and so forth. We then parted company, my brother headed back to the Palazzo to finish up with the fairs of our late father. As for myself, I continued walking with Mercedes, one of my Ladies-in-Waiting. Mercedes, one of my most trusted companions since my childhood and also came from a prominent Portuguese family. Basically we both grew up together in my father’s household.

Mercedes and I continued walking along the garden path towards my favorite spot in the gardens. The gardens itself was quite breathtakingly beautiful with the variety of flowers each in full bloom. My Lady-in-Waiting, Mercedes and I discovered at the end of the garden path a beautiful white-washed stone and wood gazebo handsomely draped with four ancient wisteria on the four corners of the gazebo in full bloom. We both walked up the stairs and inside the gazebo only to find that the wooden benches were covered with silks pillows making it my secret place. I sat down and leaned up against pillows.

“Mercedes, my dearest friend, what will become of me, now that my father is gone?” I said as I looked up at her with heavy sigh.

“I don’t know, milady.” Mercedes replied back sadly. She then said, “Perhaps your brother knows. Have you asked him yet?”

“No, I haven’t, Mercedes.” I replied back to her half heartedly. I then continued, “I’m in no mood for any of this…the preparations for my father’s funeral… and here I am dressed in full mourning. No suitor will have me now, Mercedes.“ as I felt my eyes starting well up with tears.

“Oh milady.” Mercedes replied back as she walked over and sat down next to me and took me into her arms and began to comfort me.

Pulling back from her, I continued talking with her sharing my feelings to her, as sisters would do. I stood up on my feet and walked over towards the railing of the gazebo and looked out.

“Mercedes, this is so painful for me to bear. I don’t know how anyone be so calm as my brother is right now. “ I said as I turned slightly to see Mercedes still seated.

“Your brother, you know has always put God first in his life and family is second.”

“True, Mercedes, so true.” I replied back to her. I then asked, “How can he bear it so well? When my heart is torn over the death of my father. How does he do it?”

“I don’t know, milady. Perhaps you should ask him.” Mercedes replied back to me. We continued talk for awhile in my secret place.


++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++


Sometime as my Lady-in-Waiting and I sat in the gazebo talking mostly about my father, Duke de Ferrara’s passing to the Holy Angels and then conversation changed to something completely different….marriage.

‘<I>Where did that come from?</I>’ I thought to myself.

Suddenly, I stood up from sitting next to Mercedes and began to pace back and forth in the gazebo with my Lady-in-Waiting watching me.

“Mercedes I don’t want to talk about marriage. Father isn’t in his grave and let alone with the Holy Angels and now this talk about marriage. Where did you hear such things?” I asked her as I stopped my pacing and turned and looked at her.

“It was only briefly when I heard your brother quietly speaking with his grace, Duke de Ferrera. They were mentioning your name and marriage. This was before your father, his grace passed away. Your brother, Cardinal Francesco told me in secrecy not to tell you.” Mercedes replied quietly with sorrow in her voice.

“A secret?” I said to her sounding surprised.

“Si, it was only meant as a secret until you were ready to be told. Your brother, Cardinal Francesco thought it would be best if you didn’t know right away.” Mercedes replied back to me.

“That brother of mind.” I said to myself with slight agitation in my voice.

“Ren, your brother loves you dearly. He is looking out for your best interests. And marriage is one of them.” Mercedes said to me with comforting words as I found her standing next me with her arm around my shoulder comforting me.

“I wish, Mercedes, that father didn’t bring up marriage. Who would want to marry me?” I asked her.

“Ren, you are very beautiful woman. Any man who isn’t in his right mind, would want to marry you…” Mercedes replied back to me as we both looked at each other. I heard her continued on to say, “My dearest friend, I have known you since childhood. I know you want to marry for love but if not for love…then for family convenience, and then love would follow.”

Mercedes and I continued on in our discussion about marrying for love and I began to wonder if my beloved father married for love or was it for family convenience. I never had the chance to talk with father about mother. I knew that he was greatly sadden over the loss of his wife when I was born from what my brother Francesco had told me.

‘<I>But who will give me away at my wedding if I do tend to marry?</I>‘ I thought to myself as I looked out of the windowless gazebo out onto the beautiful yellow roses in full bloom and their fragrance floating along the breeze.


Tbc…..

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Cesare Borgia

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PostSubject: Re: Chapter IV   Mon Mar 21, 2011 8:33 am


Scaramella va alla Guerra

A morning dawned, such a morning that glinted like the steel point of a murderous rapier, of the very same that for now hung in its sheath at Cesare Borgia’s side. A death-white fog drifted across the Tiber and up the foothills of the Capitoline Hill, over the sleeping ruins of Roma’s fabled past. It struggled through the ancient remnants of the subura, passing as quickly as a salacious rumour across faded marble and thick vines. Like Tarpeia, the traitorous maiden who opened the citadel gates for the murderous Sabines, it fell sharply off the cliff, onto the sharp rocks that were both that maiden’s death and namesake. From there, it drifted only a little north-west to the Campitelli, where even now residents rose to find their narrow streets choked in a fog that loitered in empty porticos like an unwanted house guest. It slipped unchallenged through the stuccoed exterior walls of the Palazzo di Santa Maria, and filled the open courtyard like a lungful of smoke haze.

Cesare breathed in the Tiber’s vapours, the unhealthy stink of a river that had been pissed on by humanity for several millennia. Il Tivere, the Artery of Rome. Centuries past had seen the lifeblood of the city’s economy running through it, by virtue of Genoese merchants and Saracen traders. Unsavoury business sprung up around its banks, the rotting refuse of the markets was emptied into it, and secret cargos of costly spices were ferried back and forth, from Ostia and the green Mediterranean beyond, into the city, to feed the exuberant tastes of its citizens. Romans had Tiber-water in their veins instead of blood; it explained why they were such a gormless race. The weak-gazed Orsini, with all their prattle about their illustrious two-thousand-years-old-name, and their direct descent from the Julio-Claudians. Foreigners ruled Rome; foreigners like the thick-blooded Borgias, who did not quake to grasp Rome by its wrinkled bollocks and seize power. Cesare, he had been named. A name fit for a Borgia.

He waited for his brother in the courtyard, Don Michelotto as his second, picking his nails nonchalantly with a thin, bejewelled stiletto. The reddish-brown stains imbedded deep under his fingernails seemed to cause him some frustration.

“What did you get up to last night?” enquired Cesare. “Gouge some poor Orsini's face off with your claws?”

“Ah, there was...a bit of a fist fight,” explained his cousin, with a sharp, canine grin. His accent had an odd, lascivious drawl, which was not completely explained by his childhood in Valencia. “In the end, I got tired of using my knuckles. A stiletto in the neck works wondrous fast.” He made a face. “Makes an awful mess of the hands though.”

“That, my friend, is why one wears gloves to such engagements,” Cesare said.

“Why is it you aren’t wearing a pair?”

“Because, Miguel, the intent of a duel between gentlemen is not to maim or kill.” Despite how much the young Borgia wished it otherwise. “It is for the satisfaction of one’s honour.”

Michelotto seemed a little offput. For a man who garrotted persons for a living, Cesare had always found him surprisingly naive.

La zombero, boro, borombetta, boro, borombo.

“What on earth is that?” asked Michelotto, hearing the approaching din of a loud stream of nonsense.

Cesare knew only too well the voice of his brother. “It is an idiot singing.”

Scaramella fa la gala! Colla scharpa et stivali!

“Two idiots,” Cesare corrected himself. His brother had enlisted backing vocals in the guise of his second, Ramiro de Lorca.

Juan Borgia emerged from the portico, rapier in hand, satin doublet left unlaced, laughing and singing like an idiot. “Scaramella is off to war, Brother!”

He’s been drinking, was Cesare’s first thought.

But the whiff of wine on Juan’s breath was only a cup that he had sculled to bolden his courage, and Cesare saw that his rapier was well-sharpened, and that he was poised, even dressed like a fool, for battle.

He saw, through the clearing mist, two female figures emerge. The blue silk of a skirt caught his eye, the fair curl of gold; Lucrezia. Behind her, absurdly sultry even in her black widow’s weeds, stood Cecilia. He felt a prickle of concern – he had not expected an audience, much less his beloved ‘women’.

Lucrezia ran up to kiss him, and surprised him by tying a thin ribbon of pale blue – the colour of her eyes – through the lace of his doublet. “My favour,” she said laughingly. The poor child thought this was chivalry, like a game between two noble knights.

“Thank you, my lady,” he said smilingly. He had to resist the urge to kiss those pink lips again as she smiled, her teeth a row of costly pearls.

When he turned, he saw that Juan was twining a curl that had somehow loosed itself from Cecilia’s veil in his fingers, and asking if he could have her favour, too. It would not be a fair match if he did not, would it?

“No,” she smiled, and hesitated for a moment before bending down to remove a scarlet garter from her stocking. Cesare found himself holding his breath as her dark petticoats fell back down to the ground. She tied it around Juan's sleeve. He took her face in his hands, as she stood before him, blushing. They looked into each other’s eyes; this was a dangerous game he had seen them play before, as children. He remembered fights that had turned into stares, and stares that, before long, had turned into kisses. And after kisses...well, he knew not. But he recalled one afternoon, in the cellars, how, looking for them, he had turned the corner, and there they had been, between casks of Lambrusco and Sangiovese, a most forbidden embrace. And he remembered the rising bile of his own envy, that Juan could take whatever he wanted and get away with it; even his own cousin’s maidenhead.

“Draw your sword, Brother,” said Juan Borgia, his brown eyes meeting his.
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Cesare Borgia

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PostSubject: Re: Chapter IV   Mon Mar 21, 2011 8:34 am


The Niceties of the Art of Duello

They fell into position; he remembered the duel master’s instruction, feet shoulder-width apart, leg forward on the sword side, heel straight in line. Back shoulder turned away, sword arm first – always first. Juan flourished, showing off; they circled several times, parrying daggers drawn. His brother lunged first; a quick parry, an instant’s skirmish, and they fell upon each other like wild animals, like savages who did not understand the niceties of the art of duello.

Juan attempted a schoolboy’s feint; Cesare caught it, taking the moment’s advantage to lunge forward. He parried Juan’s blade with his dagger, while his sword went to his unprotected left side. The tip of his blade caught his doublet – Juan swept back only just in time. He laughed.

“Not so bad – for a cardinal!”

In his haste, Cesare had left himself open to attack, and Juan redoubled in a riposte that caught him by surprise. He was sent reeling back, felt the rush of scorching rage at having been tricked by his fool of an older brother, this soft, womanish idiot who knew more about brocade than he did about ballista.

His eyes swept past the faces of his family, Cecilia and Lucrezia’s clasped hands, pale knuckles. Their fingers were wrapped around each others, against the bench. Lucrezia seemed excited; Cecilia concerned. Her arm was around Jofré, as though she feared he would draw his pathetic little toy dagger and join in the fight.

He refocused – Juan’s sideways leer, his satyr-steps. He grinned at the ladies, certain of victory; Cesare did what was dishonourable, but completely expected. His lunge defeated his brother’s parry, and within a moment, the tip of his blade was at Juan’s quivering throat, he with his rapier extended towards Cesare, wary and ineffectual.

Cesare felt power coursing through his clenched fist, through the rapier hilt, along the fine blade, to the very final, lethal tip. He was drunk on a rush as he realised his own brother’s mortality, there, at the end of his blade, at his mercy. One half-step forward, one flick of the wrist, and Juan Borgia was dead.

Consequence froze him in his place. Through the corner of his eye, he saw Lucrezia stand, ready to congratulate the winner, a smile on her face that was already fading as she noticed his hesitation, his blade poised to kill his brother. It was so easily within reach.

‘Cesare.’

He ignored the voice, which seemed to him at once more spectral than human. Was it the voice of some weakness in his conscience?

Cesssarrre...

He turned; it seemed that there was a pale, fleecy shape in the mist – was that strange, poignant, noise a sheep’s bleating?

His eyes focused on a patch of fog, which seemed to clear in a moment; and there was the Lamb of God, sacrificial, white, virginal. He was shrouded in the banner of the red cross, wrapped around a great, bleeding wound in his side, into which a shining sword was thrust; in an instant he read the Latin description. Aut Caesar aut nihil. Caesar, or nothing.

The rapier in his hand fell, and clattered. He remembered his brother, at the end of his fallen blade. Without thinking, he reached a hand towards Juan – to lift him off the courtyard gravel where he had fallen.

Michelotto picked up the sword lying on the ground, and saw the slightest, most vivid spot of blood at the shining tip.
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Renata Ferrari

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PostSubject: The funeral of a great man   Mon Mar 21, 2011 9:49 am



A full week has went by since my father’s passing. A new week has begun and very busy one for the entire de Ferrari family. Renata’s older siblings and their families have arrive at the Palazzo de Ferraro in preparation for our father’s funeral. With all the preparations done, and the moment has arrive…

It is Saturday…the day of the my late father‘s funeral.




Waking up to sadness that has penetrated the house of Ferrari for weeks since the illness and now my beloved father Ambrogio Lorenzo de Ferrari has passed to the Holy Angels. Pain and suffering throughout the entire de Ferrari family.

Here I woke up to dark and dreary morning, as I hear birds singing on a nearby trees situated by my window. Thinking nothing of it, I rolled back to sleep. Sometime later on in the morning, one of the maids entered into my bedchambers and began slowly opening curtains from the windows. Hearing the curtains being drawn revealing the sunshine through the windows, I slowly opened my eyes to see Mercedes and Dolores entering into the room as the maid curtsey before me and then left the room.

“Good morning, milady. How you this morning?” I heard Dolores said to me smiling as she walked over to another window.

“I’m doing all right, Dolores.” I replied back to her as I watched both Dolores and Mercedes move about my bedroom getting everything prepared for the day. I continued on to say to both of them, “the entire week has been busy with all the preparations for father’s funeral and with my elder siblings here. I don’t know how anyone can be so calm about the death of father. With my father passing away to the Holy Angels. I feel like there is a apart of me missing.“ as I got out of my bed and grabbed my silk robe from a nearby chair and put it on as I walked over towards the table near the window and looked out on such a lovely view gardens; which was situated back of the castle in the courtyard.

“True, milady.” Mercedes spoke up. I heard her asked me, “when is the funeral?”

“The funeral is at noon today at Basilica di Santa Maria in Ara coeli here in Rome. Please layout my formal mourning gown.“ I replied back to her sadly. Seeing Mercedes nodded in reply and walked way from me. It was about the same time that I saw Elisabete entered into my bedchambers.

“Elisabete, good morning.” I greeted Elisabete, as she walked over to me.

“Good morning, my lady.” Elisabete replied back. She went on, “Just wanted to let you know that your bath is drawn for you.”

“Thank you, Elisabete.“ as I thanked her. I headed off towards the bathroom.


++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++


During the time that I was in the bath, both Mercedes and Dolores, my two of my five Ladies-in-Waiting already dressed in their black mourning gowns continued on in their duties to me by going about my bedchambers tiding up and getting my formal silk black gown which I used for a more formal funerals…namely my beloved mother Vitória, who passed away to the Holy Angels few months after my birth. And now, my beloved father Ambrogio, who recently passed away to the Holy Angels.

Elisabete, my other Lady-in-Waiting had already left my bedchambers to bring up my breakfast tray from the kitchen. The entire household including the servants were greatly sadden to hear of the loss of their master, Duke de Ferrara.

My dearest brother, Cardinal Francesco, late Duke de Ferrara’s third son asked the everyone ranging from the servants to family members within the Palazzo’s walls to be in full mourning.


++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++



It was about twenty minutes later that I came out of the bathroom dressed in my silk robe and found my formal dark purplish-black silk velvet mourning gown laid out upon my bed and at the foot of my bed was a matching pair of ankle high boots. Seeing this I walked over towards my bed undoing my robe ties as in preparing to get dressed.

With the help from Mercedes and Dolores, I went from my silk robe to my linen drawers and then my kirtle; which was then covered my chemise. This was done before I put on my mourning gown. Once again the help from both Mercedes and Dolores, I put on my formal morning gown of formal dark purplish-black silk velvet mourning gown with dark purplish-golden thread pattern that has been imprinted onto the velvet mourning gown. Once the gown was on, I put on dark blue to ebony ankle high boots. Finally dressed, I walked over and sat down at my vanity table put on my gold and pearl cross necklace as well as my earrings before having Mercedes brushing my long wavy golden hair. After brushing my hair, and with the help from Dolores, braided my hair with dark purplish-golden thread amongst my golden hair and wrapped the braided hair around my head like a circlet.

The only thing left to be put on was the dark purplish-black veil along with black pearls hair pins. This would be on later…sometime after breakfast. Finally finished dressing, I stood up in my mourning gown and walked over towards the mirror and looked at myself and made sure that everything was in place.

During the time that I was dressing, I saw the reflection of the looking glass, Elisabete walking back into the room with tray loaded with food, ranging from fruits to cheese, bread and pitcher of mead for breakfast with Dolores following behind her.

“Milady, the breakfast has arrived.” Elisabete said to me smiling as she placed the breakfast tray down on nearby table.

“Grazie, Elisabete.“ I replied back to her smiling. I then sent on to say to her and those in my bedchambers, “Come let us have breakfast before we go down and meet up the family.”

With that said, my Ladies-in-Waiting and I sat down at the table and began to have breakfast and began to talk about this and that. Sometime later after breakfast, just as I was about to leave my bedchambers, Dolores placed the veil on my head and Mercedes grabbed my black handkerchief from my vanity table.

I was ready… with my ladies-in-waiting behind me. I left the my chambers and walked downstairs to the main lobby area, where I found my entire family all dressed in deep mourning including my Cardinal brother, Francesco.


++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++


Sometime later after the entire household including the servants of his grace, Ambrogio Lorenzo de Ferrari, Duke de Ferrara left the Palazzo de Ferrari for the Basilica di Santa Maria in Ara coeli in Rome. Everyone either went by carriages, wagons to horses rode towards the Basilica. An hour or so later, we finally arrived at the Basilica and were met by the Cardinal of the Basilica and were shown where to sit.




The crowds gathered outside of the Basilica and family and friends of the de Ferrari family gathered inside. The Cardinal started by a prayer and then began to speak about the great things that my father had done while he was living on earth. Hearing such things, I broke down weeping….like most of the family. With my beloved brother Cardinal Francesco sitting next to me placed his brotherly arm around my shoulder and comforted me during this most difficult time.

But little did I know the events are unfolding before me…all started with death of my beloved father.


Tbc…..

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Ascanio Sforza

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PostSubject: A Pearl of Great Price   Mon Mar 21, 2011 10:11 am

Morning in the Borgia apartments, the bejewelled heart of the Vatican palace. Ascanio strode into the splendid Sala dei Misteri, looked up; Johannes Burchart stood with a placid, obeisant smile on his face, and said, smilingly, His Holiness has been expecting you.

There is no sense in keeping a Pope waiting, he thought, and followed Burchart through this painted hallway and that, Pinturicchio’s colourful smiles following his stately progress. The dull, black sheen of his cassock caught the majestic light from the vaulting windows; Ascanio was reminded of the ancient cathedral of Ravenna, the Basilica de San Vitale, built that early age in which the Pontifex had resided there, an age which preceded the Borgias and glass. The windows were carved out of sheets of membrane-thin, veined alabaster by Byzantine craftsmen: that pale, hesitant light that poured through the window panes looked as though it shone out of pink-veined human skin, throbbing with dimmed radiance, alive.

Not quite like these bright, airy halls, decorated to fit the gaudy tastes of a consummate hedonist.

Burchart, ever obsequious, backed out of the room, leaving Cardinal Sforza face-to-face with the first man in Rome.

Rodrigo Borgia smiled, greeted his friend. “Salvē, Ascanio.”

He kissed the great, gleaming ruby on the Pope’s finger, trying to avoid the sharp golden claws of those it was nestled between.

“Sanctitas,” Ascanio acknowledged, letting the archaic Latin honorific hang in the air between them.

In Italian, now. “Have you have revealed the engagement to your daughter, Your Holiness?”

“Yes. She has been informed.” The Pope stopped, rubbing his morning stubble thoughtfully. “It seems I have my heart set on a spring wedding. I hope your Sforza cousin has an ounce of patience in him.”

“He will wait as long as I tell him to wait.” Ascanio laughed off the thought of his spineless illegitimate nephew, sending his orders to the Vatican. “As long as you tell him to wait.”

“She is not ready,” said Borgia, more to himself than to the Cardinal. “She is just a child. My niece was seventeen when I gave her away to your family.”

And a trifle overripe, reflected Ascanio, though he kept his thoughts well-hid. There had been no blood-stained sheets to display the morning after his nephew’s wedding to Madonna Cecilia – everyone had known she was soiled goods before she was delivered to Milan. “Fourteen is a good age for a girl to be married, Your Holiness. Any longer, and there is some risk to her virtue...”

“My Lucrezia has no blemish,” asserted Rodrigo Borgia, the proud father. “She is a gem without fault, a pearl of great price.”

Ascanio tried to envisage the girl’s innocent countenance, but found another face seemed intent on shouldering hers aside, as serene and flawless as Ravenna alabaster, and a pair of soft green eyes that seemed to follow him everywhere. They had followed him through the frescoed hallways, he realised, to this very room.

“Yes,” he agreed drily. “Without blemish.”

“I was thinking about the Orsinis,” broached the Pope, without warning. Ascanio watched as the loving father retreated back into that wily exterior, replaced by the merciless politician. “They have made an alliance of their own, it seems. Cardinal Costa’s nephew has been plucked out of Portugal for the sole reason of marrying a Medici girl.”

“It seems marriage is the order of the day,” replied Ascanio.

His Holiness stopped, pondered, thought. A slow, sly smile crept across his face. “Perhaps you should pay our Orsini friends a visit?”
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Isabetta Orsini

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PostSubject: The Clandestine Betrothal: Part I   Sat Mar 26, 2011 7:12 am

The sound of raindrops striking the grounds of the Palazzo di Orsini hypnotizes me. TAP, TAP, TAP. All else fades away. Clarice’s mutterings on married life cease to reach me. Feeling drawn to the open window, I stare listlessly into the storm. The deep gray, nondescript landscape fails to capture my attention. Resting on the window, I feel stray raindrops immediately on my face. SPLAT, SPLAT, SPLAT. But I don’t flee from the storm. Breathing deeply, I inhale the scent of the rain, of it mingling with the scent of my skin, of it mingling with the scent of the other forces of nature. All of it soothes me.

“You are so lucky to be unmarried...”

While Clarice is having marital trouble, I’m having betrothal bliss.

“...and he undressed right in front of me – it was awful!”

A betrothal I have, a betrothal!

“Isabetta?” calls Clarice. “You aren’t listening...Did something happen?”

Yes, something happened, the most wondrous has happened.

***

Exhilarated from the dance, I wished I could dance the rest of the festivities away, but I felt arms encircle me. They guided me from the courtyard of the Palazzo di Orsini. Still wishing to satisfy my passion for dance, I glanced back longingly at the dancing forms. But the arms encircled around me continued to bear me further and further away. Concentrating on those arms, I tried to discern which one of my cousins it was. With so many, as I come from a fertile lineage, I had to determine if it was an Orsini, a Tornabuoni, or a Medici. The broad, muscular arms, indicating it was one of my male cousins, narrowed the options.

“Cousin?” I called, perplexed by his silence. “How does it fare, cousin?”

“Not quite a cousin, my lady.”

My lady? Not quite a cousin, I pondered over this detail. His voice – his well-considered and clear voice – was unknown to me. Who is this? Recognizing that we were in a secluded part of the Palazzo di Orsini, panic had begun to pulse through me.

“I beg your pardon, my lord, but I don’t recognize you.”

He chuckled breathlessly. “Of course you don’t, Madonna Isabetta. We have never met before.”

“How is that possible? I know all of my kin,” listing my illustrious kin eased the panic threatening to pulse even more rapidly, “the Orsinis, the Tornabuonis, the Medicis…”

“That may be, but I am no kinsman of yours. Merely...a distant admirer.”

I asked inquiringly, “A distant admirer that surely has a name?”

“I do have a name, but I am afraid you cannot know it, just yet. Do not be alarmed, I can assure you that I am a friend to you.” He paused. “Your father has been negotiating the terms of your hand in marriage with me.”

“Then we are more than friends, my lord,” I replied, the pounding pulse of my panic tapering off.

“Propriety forbids me from behaving any more than friendly, my lady.” The intonation of his voice revealed to me that he was suppressing laughter. “You father has forbidden me to approach you before he told you the news himself, but I saw you dancing, and I could not contain myself.”

“If I can’t have your name, my lord, then can I have a look at you?”

He hesitated. “Apologies, my lady, when your father explained your condition to me, I presumed...”

“Ah, my condition,” I repeated, trying to describe my world in a way he would understand. “It’s a most peculiar condition. I live in a world of mist – I live in neither complete lightness nor complete darkness – a mist reminiscent of that which surrounds the mythical Avalon of great fame.”

He stepped forward, and took my wrists gently, guiding my hands towards his face. I touched his faint smile as my fingertips brushed across his features. His features that I tried to, also, see by sight.

“What do you see?”

“I see…” I paused, comparing what I felt with what I heard and saw, “I see intelligence.”

My fingers, resting on his face, felt his amused features. “You see intelligence in my face?”

“Yes, I see intelligence,” I answered admiringly. My father had not only found me a betrothal, a husband, he had found me one who I could enjoy the pursuit of knowledge with. “I see in many ways. Without sight, I see in hearing and touching. There is much evidence of your intelligence in the way you articulate and you appear.”

He grinned. “Do you think me old, then? Does my face betray me?”

“No, my lord, I don’t think you old!” Although I was terrified of offending my betrothal, I couldn’t help, but teasingly chide him. “You should learn to listen, truly listen, as I do.”

He laughed. “Indeed, you’re not the first person who has said that I should learn to listen.”

I merely smiled at this revelation, thinking that he would make a pleasing husband despite his shortcomings.

“Do you like what you feel, Madonna Isabetta?”

*****

This post was written with the help of my best friend.
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Isabetta Orsini

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PostSubject: The Clandestine Betrothal: Part II   Sat Mar 26, 2011 7:20 am

Do I like what I feel? Realizing that I didn’t know the answer, wonder surged through me. Never before had someone asked me if I liked what I felt. Instead, no one spoke of my affliction as they ignored I was blind at best, ignored me entirely at worst. This man, whose features – the widow’s peak and the square hairline amongst the thickness of his short hair; the slightly bristly jaw amongst his broad face – I was feeling, wanted me to be his wife. This man, who didn’t treat me like an invalid, wanted me.

“I’m afraid you can’t know what I feel just yet.”

His voice bore a tint of amusement. “And when will I be granted that privilege?”

Feeling the irresistible pull of a coy grin at the corner of my lips, I replied, “When my father has told me of the news of our betrothal of course, my lord.”

He seemed to chuckle at my innocence. “You make me long for our betrothal kiss, Madonna.”

“A betrothal kiss?”

“Yes, Madonna...at our betrothal ceremony, we will drink from the same cup, and then kiss. Have you never been to a betrothal?”

“Yes,” only a whisper, “I’ve been to a betrothal, but never my own.”

“You’ve waited a long time for yours,” he said gently.

“Perhaps too long,” I supposed. “They think that I shall never marry.”

“It matters not what others think. What do you?”

“While I’m shrouded in isolation, as the Heathens of Avalon were from the Christians of Britain, I’m yet plagued by what others think.” I sighed deeply at the perplexity of my life. “But I think anything is possible.”

He laughed, with a touch of irony in his voice. “No, my dear girl. Some things are not possible, not on God’s earth.”

“My lord, I do disagree!” I protested, perhaps a little too fervently. “The Lord, in all his glory, can make anything possible.”

“Even if it should break the law of the Church?”

“Such an unusual question and perhaps one better suited for someone of the Church.” I paused at the irony; if a match was never secured, I would most likely take the veil.

He gave an ironic chuckle. “It’s a shame there are no clergymen present whom we can consult upon this matter, isn’t it?”

“If you’re thus interested, I’m sure we can find a clergyman that would be happy to consult upon this matter.” I turned slightly away from him, tilting my head to hear voices in the distance.

“Is someone approaching, Madonna?”

“Hmmm...?” I returned my attention to him. “Oh, no one approaches.”

“You’ll forgive my trepidation...if I was caught here with you, your father would know I had gone back on my word.”

“If it calms you, I did hear voices but no one approaches us – perhaps it was singing accompanying the music.”

“I could see from the way you danced that music moves you, Madonna Isabetta.”

“Could you?” I felt that embarrassing warmth of blushing adorning my cheeks. “Oh yes, I live music.”

“Yes. I could tell you were different from your kinswomen. It was like you were drinking in the rhythm.”

“I suppose it’s because of my affliction. Music, therefore dance as well, is my soul. It’s the only form of expression I can experience apart from the rhetoric arts.”

He twined a strand of my hair between his fingers. “It is a wonder you haven’t been snatched up sooner, dear child.”

“It’s hardly a wonder,” I grimaced at the word, “because most men don’t want a wife with such an infirmity.”

“I think there is nothing infirm about you at all.”

Removing a hand from his face, I grasped his hand intertwined among my hair. “I don’t think I’ve heard anyone say those words before.”

“That only goes to show how much is wrong with this world, my dear.”

***

Turning, I look in Clarice’s direction. I answer, “Nothing.”

*****

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PostSubject: Re: Chapter IV   

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Chapter IV
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