Welcome back! I’m so happy that so many people are liking this legacy! Please, bear with me as I transition from regular in-game photos to screen prints. Some of the pictures aren’t the best quality… Last time, Isabetta was married, but her husband was called away suddenly on a business trip. While he was gone, she discovered she is going to have a child. Bianca told her parents that she wished to become a nun and they made the proper arrangements.
“ Mama!” Isabetta exclaimed as she gave her mother a big hug. With Antonio gone and his clerk having all but placed her on house arrest due to her ‘condition’, she had begged and pleaded someone to visit her. Bianca had been able to steal a few moments away from the abbey to see her, but this was the first official visit in months. Cadence pulled out of the hug and urged her daughter back into the house before she got cold.
“ And how is the baby doing? I still cannot believe that I am to be a nonna !” Cadence cooed as she made odd noises at Isabetta’s stomach. “ Oh fine, I guess. It’s not like I’ve ever done this before!” Isabetta commented. “ And you’ve been taking it easy? Not going out too much?”
Isabetta sat on one of the benches in front of the window and snorted, “Go out? Ha! That clerk of Antonio’s won’t let me go five feet out of doors before he orders me to get back inside lest I do something to hurt the baby! I swear that’s all he ever thinks about!” “ Well, I’m sure he’s just following Antonio’s instructions. By the way, have you heard from him lately? I know you sent him a letter letting him know he was going to be a father, but has be responded?” Cadence was curious when her son-in-law was coming back home.
“ I received a letter from him a week or so ago. He said that he was trying to get back as soon as he can, but has run into a little family trouble that’s kept him detained for a few more weeks.” Isabetta said wistfully. She was equally anticipating and dreading her husband’s return. It was a mystery as to how he would react to being a father, but his arrival could mean entertainment . The house was rather dull when there was only one occupant.
“ Well, I hope he comes back as soon as he is able.” I hate to see him leaving you here all alone-and in your condition, too!” Cadence said, a worried look on her face. “ Honestly, mother. I’m fine!” Isabetta rolled her eyes. She was fed up with people who treated her as if she was going to break at any second. “ No need to jump at me! I’m just a mother who is looking out for her daughter! Something you’ll understand yourself soon enough.” Cadence defended herself.
Isabetta sighed in response. There was no use in arguing with her mother. Maybe this visit wasn’t such a good idea… “ And how’s papá doing?” she asked, trying to change the subject. Cadence’s eyes lit up at the mention of her husband, “Oh he’s just fine! He misses you, though.” Isabetta smiled to herself and sat back to listen for the rest of the visit.
“ If I’ve told you once, Piero, I’ve told you a million times! No experimenting! There’s a reason I’m the master and you are just my apprentice!” Cosimo shouted, punctuating his sentences with his finger in the air. Cosimo was Piero’s master for his apprenticeship in the local apothecary shop. They got along well if it weren’t for one thing…
In his free time, Piero enjoyed experimenting with the ingredients he had spend countless hours organizing in hopes of finding new, better cures that constantly plagued the patrons of the shop. While Piero hoped of finding thousands of new cures, Cosimo was annoyed to no end. He thought the experiments a waste of time. After all, he had already created an extensive list of remedies, most of which worked, and didn’t need some young boy to come into his shop and tell him how to run things.
“ But if you’ll just listen to me, you’ll see that-” “ Silence!” Cosimo interrupted. “I’ve told you that I don’t approve of your experiments . As punishment for disobeying me again , go back and sweep out the store room.” Cosimo left to go help a man who had just come in the door while Piero had no choice but to go back and do as his master said, grumbling the entire way.
Piero got a much needed break when Cosimo was called away unexpectedly in November. His mother was in ill health and she insisted he come attend to her. It had been a stormy, quiet morning so Piero was able to prop open the door and retreat into his own world of herbs, oils, and leeches. He was so involved in his work that he hardly noticed when the door opened and someone called for service.
“ Please, is anyone here?” A young woman asked. She was soaking wet and shivering from the rain. Piero stepped behind the counter and froze. She was positively the most enchanting creature he had ever seen.
“ Oh, please help!” she cried upon seeing Piero. “ Of course.” Piero snapped himself out of his stupor. “What do you need?” “ It’s my sister! She has the influenza and simply cannot get well again! She’s had it for weeks! Even I had it but was able to recover! Please, you must have something to help her!” Tears were forming in the girls eyes and Piero was worried that she might let loose and bawl any second. “ Yes-yes. Let me see.” Piero stepped behind the counter to grab Cosimo’s influenza remedy: a mixture of elder, peppermint, and yarrow. “Tell me, does your sister have a fever?”
“ Yes, she’s had it for days.” the teary-eyed girl said. “ A sore throat; cough?” he asked while sorting through bottles. The girl nodded her head as Piero found the right bottle. He reluctantly held it out to her. If what the girl was saying, her sister’s illness sounded much worse that anything this would cure. Come to think of it, he had a much stronger remedy of his own… No. he reprimanded himself. If there was ever a time to play by the rules, this was it. I won’t be held responsible for killing someone with a faulty tonic. “ Try this. If it doesn’t work, come back to see me.” The girl flung some coins down on the counter, grabbed the bottle from his hands and ran out the door.
That afternoon the girl was back. She flung the doors back and all but ran to the middle of the room, not caring that she was dripping all over the floor. “ It didn’t work!” she cried.
“ Where is Cosimo? I need to see him! That tonic did nothing !” She said as she sat the empty bottle down on the counter angrily. “ Er- he’s not here. His mother is ill and left the supervision of the shop to me.” Piero said, wishing there was more he could do to comfort the girl. “ He’s gone ?” she moaned. “ You don’t understand! My sister is not well ! I gave her the tonic, but she is still feverish and has the most horrible cough!”
“ I’m sorry, but you must understand there is nothing more I can do. I gave you the standard influenza tonic. If it did not work, I’m sorry, but it is in the hands of God now.” A nagging voice in the back of Piero’s mind urged him to give her his remedy. It had to work…
He thought of what Cosimo would say if he were there. Surely he would recoil at the slightest mention of a new remedy. Then again, if it helped the girl…
“ It can’t be! She cannot die!” she urged, tears leaking down her face at the thought of losing her sister. Piero though of how desolate he would be to lose a sibling and his defenses crumbled, “Listen, I have an idea, but it may not work. I’ve written some of my own cures, but my master does not approve of them. I’m confident that they will do the trick, but there’s always the slight chance that something may go wrong.” Her eyes lit at the hope of another remedy, “Anything! I’ll try anything!”
He told her to wait in the front while he stepped into the back to mix dried elder flowers and peppermint leaves in a bowl. When it was done, he put it into a glass bottle and wedged a cork stopper into the top.
“ Here,” he said, placing the bottle in her hand. “Take this home, pour boiling water over it in a pot, cover it, let it steep for ten minutes, and then strain it and feed it to your sister. Make sure she drinks it all.” “ You have no idea how much this means to me!” she said as she fished for more coin in her purse. “ No cost.” Piero said, smiling. “It’s experimental, remember?” She blushed as she ran towards the door. Piero smiled and went back to the storeroom, hoping she would come back.
To Piero’s immense joy, she did. Just before he was to close up shop for the night, the door opened and there she stood. Piero opened his mouth to greet her, but was silenced when she folded into his arms, tears of relief finally escaping. “I simply cannot thank you enough!” “ It worked?!” Piero asked, wrapping his arms around her waist. “ Yes!” she announced, beaming from ear to ear. “Gina’s fever is gone!” Piero was dumbfounded that one of his own cures would actually work. “ By the way, I’m Giulietta .” she said, smiling mischievously. “ Nice to meet you.” he said jokingly as he pulled her closer. “ Il mio nome è Piero .”
“ And here is the Altar of St. Mary.” Analisa concluded. She had spent the last two hours giving Bianca a tour, devoting half of that time to the church alone. She had also been given a habit to change in to and a small chest at the end of her bed to place small mementos in. So far, the Abbey seemed a wonderful place.
“ Thank you for a wonderful tour.” Bianca said quietly between bites of her supper. “ Of course!” Analisa answered a bit too loudly. The rest of the nuns all turned to look at them, but it didn’t bother her. “ It really is a wonderful place. Everything is just so awe-inspiring!” Bianca praised. “ Eh. I suppose.” Analisa said, her mouth full.
“ Don’t you like it here?” Bianca asked, shocked that her new friend didn’t feel the same way she did. “ Now is not the time. I will tell you my story later tonight.” Analisa said quietly as she kept her eyes on her plate. Bianca nodded and the two finished their meal in silence. While they ate, the Mother watched the newest ward carefully, debating whether she would be able to lead a successful life in the convent.
That night Bianca was lead up to her room. It was a small one off the back of the main living section in the area reserved for those who had not yet taken their vows. At this time, there were only two.
“ So, Analisa,” Bianca said when her friend joined her. “You said at dinner that you do not enjoy the life of a nun. Why so?” Analisa smiled a bit at her friend’s persistence, “I see you waste no time beating around the bush.”
Bianca sat on the edge of her bed, eagerly awaiting the story. Analisa laid down on hers and took a deep breath, “I was always destined for the church. Ever since I was very young, I remember my father telling me I was to be a nun someday. “ I accepted my fate and even began to long for the day I could leave home. It was about a year before I was to depart when I met Marco. He was the son of the business partner of father and was brought along in training to take over his family business. “ That day changed me forever; I fell in love. “ Marco was perfect in every way. He visited at every opportunity and we were in over our heads. One day he proposed and I had to tell him that I could never marry.
“ He promised he would find a way to keep me from being sent to the church and that we would marry one day. We continued meeting in secret for weeks and weeks until one day, we were discovered. My father found us together in the barn and sent me away to an even further convent immediately. Marco was sent to live with his great aunt and uncle very far from me and the family business went to his younger brother instead. That was over two years ago and even though he promised he would take me away, he hasn’t. “ You see? It’s all my fault that both of our lives are ruined. I hate it here.” “ It’s not your fault! There were things you couldn’t control-” Bianca tried to comfort her friend, but stopped when she covered herself with her blankets, clothes and all, in response. Bianca followed suit and turned in for the night. Maybe they would talk in the morning.
The pawn goes…here? Isabetta struggled to figure out how to play chess. Of course, the fact that she was playing by herself didn’t help. “ Ma’am?” one of the servants addressed her from the doorway. She wiped the pieces off the board and in to the little compartment underneath. “ Yes?” Isabetta stood. “ The master’s carriage has arrived.” Isabetta’s heart leapt in excitement. Antonio was back!
She walked as quickly as she could to the front door, arriving just as Antonio walked through them.
“ My darling!” He exclaimed as he rushed forward and began planting kisses up and down her arm. For two seconds Isabetta let herself forget that his love wasn’t real and basked in the joy of feeling so wanted.
When he finished kissing his wife, Antonio’s eyes traveled to Isabetta’s waistline. “ So it’s true! I’m going to be a father! I could hardly believe my eyes when I read your letter!” His eyes just about popped out of his head when he felt the baby kick.
“ I’m glad to have you home.” she said honestly. “ And I am glad to be home!” Antonio assured her, “I missed you so much while I was away and I regret not being able to return sooner! Oh, but I’ve brought a surprise!
“ A surprise? Oh, what can it be?” “ Well, it’s nothing material…” Antonio admitted as another man came through the door. “ May I present my older brother, Marco.”
“ Ahh, Isabetta!” Marco said as he kissed her on both cheeks, “I’ve heard all about you. My dear brother here would talk of nothing else all the way back.” “ It’s nice to meet you, Marco. I knew that Antonio had a brother and was wondering if I would ever be able to meet you!” Marco looked nice enough, though his visit was quite a shock. Usually, when one goes on an extensive trip, presents included trinkets and mementos, not brothers.
Antonio stepped in between his wife and brother, “Marco, why don’t you go upstairs and refresh yourself. It was a long journey and I’m sure our steward will be glad to show you to the guest room.” “ Of course, brother.” Marco said, winking at Isabetta, “I’ll leave you two alone for a while.”
As soon as Marco was o ut of earshot, a strange look passed over Antonio’s face. “What is it?” Isabetta asked. “ Well, it’s just that-. I suppose I should say-. Um. Come in here.” Antonio grabbed his wife’s arm and lead her into the parlor.
“ I suppose I should tell you why I’ve brought him here.” Antonio said once they had sat down. “ Yes, a brother is a rather odd surprise, I must admit.” “ Well, Marco has a bit of a history and father wished me to take him home with me in order to try to talk some sense into him. You see, he refuses to marry and he thought that seeing how happy we are might encourage him to follow in my footsteps.” Happy. Right. Isabetta though sarcastically.
“ A few years back, Marco was the perfect son. He excelled at his studies and was training to join father’s business soon. It all went downhill when he went on a business trip with father one day. While father was in a meeting, he wandered about the estate and found a young girl. The two were instantly smitten with one another and met secretly for months. “ One night, he told me that he was in love and going to ask for her hand the next day. I thought nothing of it and went about my studies as usual. I didn’t know that father had no idea what was going on. “ The day he was to ask for her hand, he came back crushed. I asked him what was wrong and he told me that his lady had confessed she was meant for the church. That fact didn’t seem to stop him, though.
“ He swore that he would find a way to stop her from becoming a nun and he wouldn’t rest until they were married. “ Well, he worked at every angle for months, but his effort went to waste when he was caught with his lady in the barn by her father. He was furious! She was sent to the convent immediately and father was so embarrassed that Marco was sent to live with our great aunt and uncle in hopes of turning him around and the family business went to me. “ He’s been living in Sicily since then, but apparently hasn’t got over her yet. He’s been trying to find her this whole time, but has had no luck so far. Father keeps pressing him to marry, but he flat out refuses so he sent him back with me, hoping I could talk some sense in to him.”
“ Are you going to?” Isabetta spoke up for the first time. “ Well, therein lies the problem! I happen to disagree with father! I think Marco should be free to follow his heart. He should go after this woman, this Analisa (I think that’s her name), with everything he’s got and not rest until he has found her! After all, father disapproved of our marriage at first and look at how well it’s turning out.” “ Analisa’s her name, you say?” Isabetta’s ears perked at the familiar name. Antonio nodded in response. “ Rest assured, husband. I will do everything I can to help him; I’m on your side.” Antonio smiled and helped her off the couch, suggesting that she should get some rest.
Isabetta meandered upstairs, looking in every room for Marco along the way. When she had heard the woman’s name, she remembered when Bianca had come over for a visit and told her all about the girl she shared a room with: Analisa. When she got to the top of the stairs, she almost ran smack in to her brother-in-law.
“ Marco! Might I have a word?” “ Of course! Anything for my baby sister-in-law!” “ Well, I don’t quite know how to how to say this, but Antonio has told me the real reason you have come to visit.” Marco blushed, “He has, has he? Well, I suppose it’s not much of a secret-it never has been, really.” “ Yes, well we’ve talked and have decided that we are on your side; we want to help.”
Marco’s face lit up when he heard that his brother and his wife supported him, “Really?” “ Yes, really!” Isabetta motioned for Marco to come closer, “A few weeks ago, my sister, Bianca, came to visit from the convent and, while she was here, told me all about her new roommate, Analisa.” she heard him gasp at the name. “ Is it her? Is she really here?” “ I’m not positive, but I believe so. Go to the convent and ask for Bianca. I am sure that she will help you, if you explain the situation.”
“ I’ll go right away! Thank you, thank you so much, Isabetta!” Marco hugged her quickly before taking off in a sprint down the stairs while shouting to Antonio, asking to borrow a horse. Isabetta walked to her room slowly to take a nap, trying to calculate how much longer until her baby is born.
“ Bianca! One moment please!” a blonde girl stopped Bianca as she came out of the church.
“ The Reverend Mother is asking for you. She is entertaining a man interested in donating to the church in the guesthouse and she wishes for you to give him a tour.” “ Me?” Bianca asked, “I’ve only been here for a while. Why not someone else; someone who know her way around a little more?” “ This man is asking specifically for you .” the blonde answered. “ Very well, sister.” Bianca said before taking off in the direction of the guesthouse.
“ You called me, Mother?” Bianca asked quietly as she entered the room. She saw the Mother Superior discussing the stained glass windows with the man. From the snippet of conversation she heard, he was interested in donating money to create another one.
“ Ahh, yes. Signore , may I present our newest addition to the convent, Bianca.” the Reverend Mother stood and the man followed. He stepped forward and greeted Bianca with a small peck on both cheeks. “ It’s nice to meet you, Bianca.” he said.
“ Signore Marco is interested in funding a new stained glass window for the convent and has insisted that you show him around.” “ I would be glad to!” Bianca said eagerly. “ Thank you. Please, take him where you please and meet me back here in an hour or so.” She left the room when Bianca nodded okay.
“ If you’ll follow me, I’ll show you the church first. In the church, there are several altars…” Bianca started walking towards the door, but Marco grabbed her arm and turned her around. “ Please, I’m not really here for a tour. I have some questions and your sister said you would help me.”
“ My sister?” How did her sister know this man? “ Yes, we’ve never met, but I’m Antonio’s brother. I’ve recently arrived from Sicily and your sister said you could help me locate someone. I’m looking for a woman named Analisa and I think she is a nun here.” Suddenly, everything clicked for Bianca. “You’re Marco ! She’s told me the whole story!” Marco sighed in relief, “You already know? Good! Then will you help me?” While Bianca had second thoughts about encouraging this meeting, Marco’s pleading expression made her agree to go find Analisa.
After walking all around the abbey, she finally found Analisa coming out of the scriptorium. “Sister Analisa! I need a moment to speak with you.”
“ This may sound a little odd, but, well-Marco’s here . He’s waiting in the guesthouse and has asked me to find you.” Analisa about had a heart attack, “Marco’s here !? Take me to him! Now! I cannot believe he actually came !” Before Bianca could respond, Analisa began pushing her down the hall in the general direction of the guesthouse.
When they got to the guesthouse, Bianca made Analisa wait outside the door. “Marco,” she said cautiously, “I’ve found Analisa.” “ Where is she?” he demanded. “ Now, hold on a moment. I cannot condone anything inappropriate and must insist that you remember she is a nun and committed to God!” “ Yes, yes! I know, I know; now where is she!” At that moment Analisa opened the door and ran into his arms.
“ I guess I’ll leave you alone now.” Bianca said to herself as she exited the room. The couple didn’t even bat an eye at her exit. Making sure to shut the door tightly behind her, Bianca couldn’t help but feel a twinge of regret. Surely nothing good could come out of this situation.
Bianca paced back and forth late that night, waiting for Analisa to return. It was late and she hadn’t seen hide nor hair of her all afternoon. All of the other nuns had gone to bed but Bianca couldn’t possibly sleep without knowing what had become of her roommate.
AT half past midnight, she finally returned. “Analisa, where have you been?!” Bianca demanded as loud as she dared for fear that she would wake the others in the next room. “ Oh, Bianca! It was magical!” Analisa swooned. “Marco and I went up to the far east cloister- you know no one ever goes all the way up there and-” “ Stop! I don’t want to hear what you did all afternoon!” Bianca interrupted, “What you did was wrong!”
“ After an hour he said he had to go back and meet the Reverend Mother, but when they were done talking, he snuck over the far wall and met be back in the cloister and we finally-” “ Aah! I said stop; I don’t want to hear all about your little tryst in the courtyard.” Bianca was scared to hear what was coming next. “ Oh and wait until you hear the best part! Bianca, he proposed! He said that even after so long, he still wishes for my hand! Of course I said yes! He’s coming for me in two days time!”
“ Analisa! Snap out of it! You are a nun ! You cannot run off with Marco; it’s against your vows!” “ Aah, my dear, sweet Bianca. Have you forgotten? I haven’t taken my vows yet! I’m still in the novitiate stage which means I can leave if I really want to! All I need is your help.” A permanent smile seemed plastered to Analisa’s face. “ Help? Haven’t I already done enough?”
“ Please, just one more thing? When Marco comes, he’s going to donate the money for a new window and ask to see you again in order to thank you for the tour. I’ll come with you and from there we will leave. No one watches the front door and there plenty of people coming and going all day so no one will notice us! I’ll leave a letter for the Mother saying that I’ve decided the life of a nun isn’t for me and that’s all she ever need know. It’s the perfect plan!” “ I don’t know…” Bianca was hesitant to get too involved. “Isn’t there something we could do that’s, you know, less underhanded?”
“ Honestly, Bianca. It’s the best thing we could come up with! I have to do this. I cannot bear to spend the rest of my life shut away in here when I could be out there with Marco!” Analisa put on her best pout. “ Fine.” Bianca relented. “But if anything goes wrong, it was all your idea!” Analisa squealed in excitement as she wrapped her best friend in a hug.
“ Aren’t you up yet?” Antonio asked Isabetta as he walked in her room. It was almost ten o’clock and he hadn’t seen her all morning. “ I didn’t really feel like coming down yet. Or getting dressed for that matter.” Isabetta moaned from her spot on her couch.
“ Well, get dressed and come down! I have someone for you to meet!” Antonio said enthusiastically. Isabetta groaned and sat up. “I’ll be down in ten minutes.” Antonio smiled and left the room, shutting the door behind him. Isabetta heaved herself off the couch, trying to ignore the twisting knots her stomach tied itself in as she moved about.
As promised, Isabetta was dressed and ready for the day ten minutes later. She found Antonio entertaining a strange woman in the parlor and went to investigate. “ Don’t tell me, Antonio? You’ve brought a sister home too? A cousin perhaps?” “ No, not at all!” Antonio laughed. “May I present Maria?”
“ It’s a pleasure to meet you, Maria.” Isabetta said politely, “May I inquire as to your visit?” “ Maria is a highly recommended midwife and wet nurse. I’ve hired her for the time being; she’s going to live here until the baby is born.” Antonio watched for his wife’s reaction.
“ Wet nurse?” Isabetta asked, stepping back. “ Yes, Maria has a daughter only a few weeks old herself, but has been recently widowed. She needs a place to stay, so I figured we could take her in as an employee. She and her infant will sleep in the nursery and look after our child as well.” Antonio was so busy telling Maria’s life history that he failed to notice Isabetta tuning out. “ Isabetta, signora , are you alright? You don’t look well!” Maria interrupted.
“ I’m fine! It’s just that my husband has impeccable timing!” Isabetta shrieked. Maria laughed, “Yes, yes he does. If you’ll excuse us, signore , I think your child is ready to make its entrance.”
Maria helped Isabetta upstairs and sent for her family. Hearing that their first grandchild was about to be born, Cadence and Giovanni dropped everything and dragged Piero along for the ride.
Isabetta was helped into a shift while Cadence lit the chamber dimly and Bianca set about preparing a warm bath for the infant. “ Calm down!” Maria pleaded with Isabetta, “It’s not that bad!” “ Not that bad ?! It’s awful! Mother, I honestly don’t know how you did this!”
“ Don’t worry dear. It’s over before you know it.” Cadence tried to calm down here daughter. Maria helped Isabetta in to a partial sitting position, mumbling all the while about not having time to purchase a proper birthing chair.
“ The bath is ready.” Bianca announced as she took the pot of warm water off the fire and poured it into a bowl at the end of the bed. Watching her sister go through such agony made her glad of her choice to become a nun; she would never have to experience this herself.
Downstairs the men waited in the parlor. Marco, Piero, and Giovanni were all deep in conversation while Antonio paced back and forth, praying to the saints to help his wife with the delivery. “ Honestly, Antonio! You’re going to wear a hole in the floor! You’ve been praying for over two hours straight! Come sit down.” Marco said from his position on the couch.
Antonio listened and sat down next to his brother, mumbling one last prayer. “ Really, she’s going to be fine! Didn’t you say so yourself Maria was the best midwife you could find!” Marco hated to see his brother is such a state of anxiety.
“ I know, its just that I worry so! If anything happens to Isabetta or my son or daughter, I don’t know how I will be able to go on!” Antonio confided. “ Well, I guess we have no choice but to wait and see what becomes of them; you know men aren’t allowed in the birthing chamber!”
“ Make some room, boys!” Giovanni commanded, tired of standing. The two brothers both made room. “ Take it from someone who’s been where you’re at,” Giovanni said, “everything’s going to be fine! I went through this three times, so I know how you feel.”
“ I really hope you’re right.” “ Don’t worry, son. Why don’t we change the topic if it you’re so worried.” Giovanni suggested. “ Excellent idea, signore ! Piero, how’s it going down at the apothecary shop?” Marco asked earnestly.
Thinking how crazy his brother-in-law sounded, Piero sorted through the bookshelf while he answered Marco’s question, “It’s been fine. Did I tell you that my master isn’t here right now? The shop has been entrusted to me while he’s away attending to a sick relative!”
The three men on the couch listened to Piero’s story about running the shop and meeting a young lady eagerly, glad to have something to take their minds off the situation.
“ That’s it! Very good, Isabetta! One more and you’re there!” Maria coaxed eagerly. The high-pitched scream of an infant rang through the chamber, causing everyone to become silent.
“ Oh, Isabetta! You’ve done wonderfully!” Cadence exclaimed upon seeing the infant. “I cannot believe I’m a grandmother ! She looks just like you when you were born!”
“ Here, put her in the bath.” Maria handed the baby to Bianca. “ I have a daughter?” Isabetta asked quietly from the bed. “ Yes, figlia . And she’s beautiful.” Cadence beamed with pride while she supervised the child’s first bath.
“ Can I see her?” she asked. “ One moment, Isabetta. I haven’t swaddled her yet.” Bianca said while she tied a piece of cotton around the newborn. “ It doesn’t matter. Can’t you do it in a minute?” By now Maria had left the room so Bianca had no one to confirm with. Making the decision on her own, she handed Isabetta her daughter. Isabetta held the baby tenderly, scared that she would break her.
Downstairs, Maria threw out the dirty linens. On her way back upstairs, she stopped in the parlor to tell the anxious father the good news.
All four men jumped up when they saw Maria enter the room, “How is she? How is the baby? Are they both ok?” Antonio bombarded the midwife with questions. “ I have good news, signore. Your wife has been delivered of a healthy baby girl and both are expected to make a healthy recovery.” Cheers rang around the room and each gave Antonio a congratulatory slap on the back.
“ A girl!” Antonio could hardly form sentences due to his excitement, “Take me to them! I want to see my little girl!” “ Slow down, signore ! You know it’s not right for a man to enter the chamber! When the baby has been properly swaddled, I will bring her down for you to see.”
“ I don’t care about propriety! I want to see my daughter!” Antonio insisted. Maria knew there was no chance arguing with this man, so she let out a sigh in consent.
“ Follow me.” she said curtly, turning on her heel and walking out of the room. “ Congratulazioni !” Giovanni said, reaching out for a hand shake. Marco and Piero echoed their sentiments before Antonio turned to follow Maria.
“ Ahem.” Antonio cleared his throat quietly to announce his presence. All of the ladies looked up, startled to see him. “ I, uh, I want to see my daughter.” he said nervously.
“ Of course!” Bianca scooped her out of Isabetta’s arms and brought over to see her father. Antonio was entranced by her small features; she had his eyes! “ Would you like to hold her?” Bianca asked.
Antonio held out his arms and his daughter was placed carefully in his. He rocked her gently back and forth, relieved that everything had gone well.
Isabetta kicked her legs over the edge of the bed and, with the help of her mother, stood up and crossed the room. Antonio held out their daughter for her to look at. “ Isn’t she beautiful?” she asked while waving and making strange cooing noises. “ Yes, yes she is.” he answered, moving his gaze between his daughter and his wife.
Before Bianca could take the baby back to swaddle her, Antonio escaped downstairs to show her off to his relatives. “ Isn’t she just perfect ?” He asked, holding her out for all to see. “ Too bad she’s not a boy.” Marco noted, “No parties, no gifts…” Antonio that girls weren’t celebrated like boys were, but it made no difference to him.
“ I don’t care, Marco. She’s wonderful as she is.” Antonio said, holding her out for his brother to get a good look at. “ I can’t believe I’m a grandfather!” Giovanni mumbled to himself. “ Yeah, and I’m an uncle!” Piero concluded.
Two days later, the baby was christened Antonia, Netta for short, and life went back to normal. Piero went back to the apothecary shop and enjoyed two more weeks of freedom before his master came back.
When he did come back, he and Piero went right back to arguing. Seeing that his remedies really did work made Piero fight even harder to get Cosimo to see things his way.
However, Cosimo refused to listen to a novice and often had the last word, telling Piero to go clean the back room and threatening him physically if he talked back.
Piero followed his master’s instructions reluctantly, daydreaming of the time when he will finally have a store of his own.
His favorite parts of the day was when Giulietta would join him for lunch outside. Her family lived above one of the shops on the street and she was able to escape unnoticed for a while to eat with him. Her whole family had recovered from the illness Piero had helped with over two months ago; her hair had even grown back out. They spent their time munching and talking about subjects Piero felt he could not talk about with any other person.
One afternoon in early November, Piero waited outside for Giulietta so they could go to lunch. When she appeared around the corner, he beamed and scooped her into a hug.
They walked down the street, chatting the entire way until they reached their usual spot. Giulietta started to spread out the food, but stopped when she saw Piero hadn’t moved. “ Are you okay?” she asked him, standing back up.
“ Yes, I’m okay. It’s just that-well, I have something I wanted to ask you.” he said nervously. “ Of course!” she encouraged. They talked about everything . What was so different about today?
“ I don’t know exactly how to say this, but I have really enjoyed the time we spend together. We get along so well and I think, well, I-I love you.”
Giulietta’s eyes went wide and she stammered, “Are you saying what I think you’re saying?” Piero took a deep breath, smiled and continued.
“ I have only six months left in my apprenticeship and then I’ll have a shop of my own. I’ll finally be rid of that awful Cosimo and that means I’ll have an income and a way to, you know, support a family. “ I want to know if I could be so lucky as to have your hand in marriage. I love you.” Blushing at his words, Piero held his breath, praying that she would say yes.
For a moment, Giulietta was speechless and Piero was scared stiff. What if she said no? “ Piero,” she began, “I’ve loved you since the first day I met you and every day we’ve spent together has only amplified my feelings. I would be honored to be your wife.”
Overjoyed that she said yes, he pulled her close and kissed her sweetly on the mouth.
When Piero went in to work the next day, Cosimo was no where in sight. Instead, a man dressed in the English style was standing just inside the doorway, looking bored. “ Finally!” he said in broken Italian. Apparently, he wasn’t from around here.
“ You’re Piero?” he asked. “ Yes…” Piero responded cautiously, “What’s going on?” “ I’ve news for you. I was sent to inform you of the death of your master, Cosimo. He passed late last night and has left the apothecary shop and everything in it to you.”
Piero’s heart nearly stopped at the news, “You mean, all of this ” he gestured abstractedly with his hands, “is mine?” “ Precisely.” the man answered. “ Truly? It’s mine? But my apprenticeship isn’t over for six more months!”
“ Well, congratulations, then! Your master left exact instructions, saying that all of this is to go to you.” “ Thank you! Thank you!” Piero said as he shook the man’s arm wildly. “ Of course.” the man responded calmly. “Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off.” Piero stepped to the side and allowed the man to leave.
It’s finally mine! All of it! Piero thought blissfully as he ran outside. Locking the door behind him, he ran down the street, ignoring the funny looks he got from strangers as he called Giulietta’s name. He had to find her and tell her the good news!
End of chapter 1.5! For these last few slides, I wanted to include a few pictures I wasn’t able to work in to the story. I think this picture is really cute. They are so in love; the did this (along with other lovey-dovey actions) on their own.
Note to self: keep a closer eye on Giovanni. While I was having Cadence fix some supper, he wandered into the yard and got himself sprayed by a skunk.
Last but not least, a picture of Antonio tucking in his new baby girl. Seriously, he loves Netta! He wouldn’t put her down! Ciao!