In which Giovanni loses all he had but gains much more.
Giovanni Moretti looked around, surveying the empty plot of land that he now called home. So this is what it comes to. he thought grimly. Me, Giovanni; part of one of the wealthiest families in all of Florence reduced to living like a peasant. When his father died, Giovanni was faced with the tedious job of settling his many debts. After weeks of haggling with the debt collector, Giovanni had been left with nothing except a sad plot of land on the outskirts of town.
Changing to a simple cotton shirt and plain brown pants, Giovanni set aside his noble finery, the last connection he had to his old life, saving them for a later date, and got to work building a new shelter. Digging into the earth, Giovanni couldn't help but feel a sense of satisfaction. Instead of running away from his problems as his father had, he was meeting them head on.
Two weeks later, Giovanni had finished. The once empty patch of land was now occupied by a small house and a sizeable cellar. Who knows? Maybe one day I will even see my own children running around this house. he thought as he looked on with pride at his workmanship. Reaching into his pocket, he pulled out a few seeds he had managed to scrape enough money to buy and turned to begin planting a garden.
Giovanni became so engrossed in his work that he did not notice soft footsteps coming up behind him. "Ahem." She politely cleared her throat to get his attention after being ignored for several seconds.
Dropping his work, Giovanni turned around and his expression brightened at the sight of his childhood friend, "Cadence!" "Giovanni, it has been so long!" Cadence replied, hugging him back.
All of the sudden the skies rumbled and rain started to pour. "Oh no! Not rain!" Cadence said, putting her hands out, "It will surely ruin this dress and it's not even mine!" "Come with me, then." Giovanni said, taking off in the direction in his house, "We can wait it out inside."
"Please, take a seat." Giovanni offered, motioning to the only chair in the corner. "Thank you, Giovanni." Cadence said, sitting down. Giovanni took a seat beside her, wondering how long the rain would last. "I am surprised the sky opened up so suddenly!"
"I am too. I do hope my dress is not ruined. I'm borrowing it from my cousin." Cadence said, her eyes wandering around the small room. "It's been so long since we last saw each other! When your family moved so far out in the country, I was sure we would never speak again. What brings you to Florence?" Giovanni asked.
"Well, my father decided it was high time he married me off, so he's sent me to the city to stay with my cousin, Lucia and her family. I've been here for four days already and so far I haven't done much except pine for home. Lucia keeps insisting on dressing me up and parading me about town. I assure you, it's not as fun as may seem. “I heard you were in town and, thought it took some prying, I finally weaseled your location out of her."
"Yes. I suppose you're wondering why I'm all the way out here on my own." Giovanni said. "Well, the sad truth is that when my father passed away, all of my inheritance went towards paying off his debts. I even had to sell the Villa deiMoretti. I took what little I had left and came out here. I've been living like this for about a fortnight. Although it is hard work at times, I find myself enjoying being able to work with my hands."
"That is terrible, Giovanni!" Cadence exclaimed. "I am so sorry to hear about the passing of your father." Giovanni smiled a little at her kind words. "How long will you be in town?" "To be honest, I don't know. As long as it will take for my father to find a husband for me, though I don't know how long it will take since I am already eighteen."
"Yes, well. I hope it doesn't take too long." Giovanni said as he stood up and looked out the window, "The rain seems to have let up." "I suppose I must be getting back. I didn't exactly give my cousin all of the details about where I was going today. Your new lot in life is somewhat taboo in town." Giovanni took Cadence's hand and escorted her to the door.
When they were outside, Cadence turned and gave Giovanni a hug goodbye. For a second, Giovanni was lost in her embrace, remembering back to the days of their childhood that they had spent together. Days spent running through vineyards and lounging in the summer sun. Days he would give anything to get back.
Pulling away, Cadence mumbled something about having to leave as she blushed bright red. Giovanni watched as she left, thinking how wonderful it would be if she could stay.
Two days later, to Giovanni's surprise, Cadence visited again. He was outside working in his garden, but this time he heard her arrive. "Lucia was feeling a bit under the weather today and I was able to get away again." Cadence explained.
"Poor Lucia." Giovanni said, starting to put down his gardening tools. "Ah well. Her loss is my gain. It's nice to see you again." "Oh, don't stop working just because I'm here!" Cadence said as she grabbed a spare tool and began to turn the earth. "You'll need all the food you can get, come wintertime and I don't want to get in your way."
Cadence and Giovanni worked together all afternoon until she had to leave for supper. Over the next few weeks, Cadence visited as often as she could, sometimes helping out in the garden and the house, and other times just keeping him company by chatting away amiably while he worked.
One afternoon in late September, Giovanni and Cadence found themselves relaxing after pulling weeds in the shade of a tree. Cadence was talking worriedly about an upcoming ball she and her cousin were expected to attend while Giovanni marveled at how close her body was to his. "And Lucia expects me to be able to do all sorts of dances. I don't know how I'll be able to keep up!"
"I just know that I will end up making a fool of myself!" She said, a worried look plastered on her face. "You! Make a fool of yourself?! Never! You are the most graceful person I know." It was true. Lately, Giovanni had found himself thinking more and more about her wonderful qualities, including her grace.
"I'm not so sure about that." Cadence argued. "Here, let me show you." Giovanni said, getting to his feet and pulling Cadence up with him. "Take my hand- yes. Like that. It's easy. Just do what I do."
Just as Giovanni had predicted, dancing was second nature for Cadence. Soon enough, she was gliding right alongside her partner, attempting complex twirls and spins. Giovanni watched her graceful form slip around and underneath his arm.
"See. I told you." Giovanni said as he pulled Cadence close. He hugged her tightly as they spun in circles. At that moment, the realization hit him: he was in love. And not with just anybody. With Cadence.
Lifting her chin so their eyes met, Giovanni pressed his lips against hers and they shared their first kiss.
Holding her tightly, Giovanni dipped Cadence over his arm, all the while keeping their lips together.
When they finally pulled apart, Giovanni knew that this was the one he was meant to be with. Kneeling down, he spoke plainly, "Cadence, I have finally realized that you are the one I love; that you are the one I want to marry. Please, although I have nothing to give you except my love, accept me as your husband."
"Of course I will!" Cadence exclaimed as she leapt into Giovanni's arms. Giovanni's heart leapt in excitement as he held his future bride in his arms.
Cadence backed off and, with a sheepish grin, pecked her betrothed on the lips, "I must be going home now. Papa is arriving tonight and I must tell him everything!" Giovanni smiled as he watched Cadence rush off in a swirl of silk skirts towards town.
The next afternoon, after making a quick change of clothes, Giovanni found himself in town, shaking hands with Cadence's father, Piero. Upon hearing the news that his daughter was engaged, he had insisted that Giovanni come over as soon as possible so they could discuss arrangements for the wedding.
"My daughter tells me that you wish to take her hand." Piero said after exchanging formalities. "What she says is true, sir. Your daughter and I wish to marry." Giovanni said. "Good, good." Piero mused happily. Giovanni came from one of the most prominent families in all of Florence. Even if he had hardly any money left to his name, he had a title that would raise Cadence's social standing greatly and it would be no time at all before he had earned at least part of the famous Moretti fortune back. It was more than Piero, a farmer with a lesser noble title, could have ever hoped for his daughter achieve.
"Now I know my financial situation may not be the most promising," Giovanni began nervously, "but I assure you that I am working diligently to build a home." "No matter, boy. I have faith in your work ethic. I know that you will be able to provide a good home for my daughter. Now, about the dowry. I am prepared to give a dowry of 1,100 florins. I hope it is a reasonable amount." "Of course it is a reasonable amount, sir! It is more than I expected!"
"So, it's settled, then." Piero concluded, "A dowry of 1,100 florins, a wedding to be held in the spring, and my blessing." "Yes, sir." Giovanni grinned, "Thank you very much. I know I shall make your daughter very happy."
"Oh! Thank you! Thank you, papa!" Cadence threw the door open and flew into her father's arms when she heard from her position outside the door that he had agreed to their marriage. "You are welcome, my dear." He whispered in her ear, "You are sure you wish to marry Giovanni Moretti?" "I am, papa." Cadence said, beaming at Giovanni all the while.
"And I shall care for thee forever." Giovanni promised as he slipped his mother's wedding ring on Cadence's slim finger. Spring had finally come and, early one morning, the two young lovebirds found themselves exchanging their wedding vows in a lovely garden in front of their guests.
Cadence's heart thumped in joy as she sealed her vows with a kiss. She was finally married. And to none other than Giovanni: her childhood friend. Who would have guessed? Pulling apart, Cadence and her husband turned to face the audience. Their guests applauded as they walked back down the isle towards the tables that were loaded down with food. It was time to celebrate.
After enjoying a lunch of several cold dishes and cake, Cadence sought out her father. "My darling!" he said, giving her a hug. "Papa! I am so happy you are here!" "Ah. If only your mother were here to see this, too." Piero said with a sad look in his eyes.
"Don't worry, papa. She is surely watching down on us and having a joyous time" Cadence said, matching her father's tone. Her mother had died several years ago from a blow she had taken to the head from a rampant horse running through the streets of Florence. "You're right, Cadence. I wish you find all the joy in your marriage that I found in mine." "Thank you, papa." Cadence said, before heading back to be with Giovanni.
After much merriment, eating, drinking, and dancing among the guests, Giovanni left with his new bride for home. When they finally arrived, Giovanni lead her to the bedroom where they fell onto the bed, ready to spend their first night together. "I love you." He whispered as he leaned in for a kiss.
And that's the end of the first part. Until next time, I leave you with a picture of Cadence cooking breakfast, looking very much like an angel.