Sorry this chapter has been so long in the making. It took a while to rebuild my game, and, once it was done, I saw that I had too many pictures to fit into one chapter. Therefore, I’ve divided it into two parts and will get the next one up as soon as possible. Enjoy!
Life returned to normal after the passing of Giovanni and Cadence- or at least as normal as was possible. Too young to really understand death, Maddalena was constantly confused as to where her grandfather had gone. Giulietta and Piero had tried to explain many times what had happened but Giovanni’s presence was still missed.
But Maddalena grew and with age came knowledge, so she soon understood and accepted the fact that her grandfather was gone.
The family moved on to happier times when Giulietta announced that she was expecting again. The family waited in anticipation for the day the baby would arrive- a day that came in early spring.
Niccolo Giovanni Moretti came into the world with no complications. At the birth of a boy, the family was overjoyed and celebrated the arrival of the next heir to the family’s legacy.
Lucrezia blew out her candles as hard as her little lungs could. Still, the flames only flickered. The rest of the family laughed and Giulietta helped blow the candles out. Today was her birthday and the family had gathered to celebrate.
Lucrezia grew in to a lovely young woman, much to the delight of her parents.
However, her parents also thought that their children were growing much too fast. They missed the sound of little feet running about the place.
Sure Niccolo could hardly walk yet, but Piero had always wanted a large family.
Isabetta grimaced as she heaved her breakfast into the pot again. For the past week she hadn’t been able to keep her breakfast down and there was a sneaking suspicion in the back of her mind that that night she had spent with Antonio the night before her father’s funeral was the cause. She stood up quickly and wiped her face with a towel when she heard Antonio call for her from down the hall. “ Coming!” she yelled, not wanting to cause suspicion.
Today was Netta’s birthday and the entire party was waiting on Isabetta. Hurrying into the dining room, Isabetta watched as her daughter blew out her candles.
Placing Netta on the floor, Antonio stepped back to give her some room. To him, it seemed that she was born only yesterday, and here she was growing up so fast.
Soon after blowing out her candles, Netta spun into a beautiful young woman. Quickly changing into her new dress and pulling back her hair, Netta rejoined the party.
Netta had returned just in time, too. Today was Tina’s birthday also and she had just blown out her candles in the kitchen.
Tina changed into her servant’s garb and pulled her hair back in a black ribbon before giving her best friend a hug. While their relationship seemed odd to anyone else, Netta and Tina were not bothered by their class separation. Whispering secretly, they walked off, arms linked, to the dining room to polish off some cake.
Isabetta, however, was not in the mood for a party. Quietly, she slipped out the side door to get some fresh air in her garden, hoping no one saw her leave. Since deciding that she had to release Antonio of his curse, she had come up with a plan. Now, all she had to do was gather enough courage to go through with it. Every time she had tried, she had lost her nerve and run from the room, shaking. Bending down to pick some daisies, she didn’t hear Antonio’s soft footsteps behind her.
“ Isabetta?” he asked quietly. Not expecting someone to be behind her, Isabetta let out a small shriek and jumped to her feet, “Goodness, Antonio! You scared me!” “ I am truly sorry, my love.” He answered in return. Isabetta just rolled her eyes and mumbled something about wanting to be alone before walking quickly out of the garden.
Either he did not hear or he did not listen because Antonio followed his wife outside. “What is bothering you, Isabetta? He asked once he had caught up to her. For the past couple weeks, she would hardly look him in the eye, let alone even touch him. “ I-I need you to do something for me.” Isabetta said nervously, her eyes sparkling with tears. “ Anything, my love!” Antonio said wholeheartedly. “ I need you to divorce me.”
“ Divorce you?! Why in the world would I ever do that? Besides, the church would never allow it!” Antonio practically shouted. “ Yes, the church would have to allow it, Antonio. I-I have not been faithful.” Isabetta said the last part quietly, afraid to finally let her dark secret out in the open.
“ It was while you were away on business for so long. Your clerk had come around a couple of times to check on the house. I was so bored, so lonely. I begged him several times to escort me to somewhere, anywhere, but he always refused, saying I had to wait for your return to be allowed out of the house.
“ After his third or fourth visit, I gave up trying to go out into town and began amusing myself with a new challenge. If your clerk wouldn’t take me out, I would take him in.
“ He came over nearly afternoon and, after talking a bit in the garden, I invited him inside for some wine and a snack.
“ He would stay for quite a long time, drinking a lot of wine. Of course, I flirted but he always left before anything happened.
The same thing would happen day after day. He would come to see how I was faring, I would ask to go out, he would decline, and I would invite him in.
“ One night, your clerk stayed later that usual. It may have been because of the unusual amount of wine he consumed that night, but that is beside the point now. Anyways, one thing lead to another and…
“ You committed adultery ?” Antonio asked, shocked at what he was hearing. “ Yes, and now I insist you divorce me, Antonio. Please.” “ No, I cannot! Have you no idea the scandal it would cause? Besides, I’m sure it wasn’t your fault! It was my clerk, Alberto, I’m sure of it! He seduced you and now he shall be punished!” Antonio was fuming. “ Stop it! It was not Alberto’s fault, it was mine. I am telling the truth!”
“ Do not take the blame upon yourself, my dear. Rest assured I will bring justice to the wrong Alberto has done.” Antonio moved in to give his wife a kiss, but Isabetta pushed him away. “ Stop it! You must listen to me! I am not worthy to be your wife. Please, you have to understand.”
“ I understand perfectly. Alberto took advantage of you when-” Isabetta cut off Antonio’s words, telling him he was wrong yet again. “Stay here. I’ll be right back.” she sighed. She had been hoping to be able to get Antonio to leave her without using her last wish, but it looked like she wouldn’t be so lucky.
Antonio listened to his wife and stayed put, nervous about what she was up to.
Isabetta came running back moments later, carrying a large gold object in her hands. Once it was set down on the ground, Antonio could see that it was a very oddly shaped lamp. Curiously, he watched as his wife rubbed it back and forth.
Isabetta stepped back and watched as a purple smoke wafted up out of the opening. She stood perfectly calm, waiting for it to materialize while Antonio looked confused and wondered if he was seeing things.
“ Finally!” the floating purple man that had formed in the air exclaimed, stretching out his back. “It’s nice to finally be out in the open again! How long has it been? Ten, fifteen years? It’s nice to see you again though, Isabetta. Are you ready to make your third wish?”
“ Yes.” she answered meekly. “ Aah, I see that your wishes have worked out perfectly.” the purple man said, noticing Antonio standing behind him. “ Er- actually, not as well as I had hoped. My last wish is to take back my first wish, if you please.”
Foolish mortals. The purple man muttered under his breath. Will they ever learn? “And you're sure about this? After this, I’m gone and you can’t take anything back. Ever.” he sighed. It was always the same with humans. They would wish for something outrageous and then take it back later, realizing they had made a mistake.
“ I'm positive. I’ve done enough damage already- I need to set things straight.” Seeing that his mistress was serious, the purple man waved his arms, saying “As you wish.”
Once the wish was granted, the man winked at Antonio (who had done nothing but stare at the man the entire time), turned back into smoke, and reentered his lamp. Seconds later, it disappeared in a shower of sparkles.
As the lamp disappeared, Antonio felt an odd feeling come over him. Stumbling back a bit, he put his hand to his head. He felt dizzy, but at the same time, his head was clearer. It was as if he had been walking around in a fog but now it had suddenly cleared.
“ You!” he shouted angrily, “What did you do?!” “ Just as you have heard. Years ago, I came across the lamp and found that I was able to make three wishes. I wished first for you to fall in love with me and second for money for a dowry. I needed a way to move up in the world and you were the quickest way I could think of.”
“ So you used me and then cheated on me?” Antonio was furious and didn’t care who heard him. It didn’t matter anyways, Netta’s party was probably over by now and the butler had shown the guests out. “Now that I see clearly, no thanks to you, I really should divorce you! Then the world would see you for the common trollop you really are!”
Isabetta started to speak, but a wave of nausea overcame her before she could make a sound. Knowing she didn’t have time to make it to the privy, she whirled around to heave into the bushes.
Antonio watched as his wife lost her lunch to the plants. Once she was done, she stood, wiped her mouth, and waited for Antonio to start talking again.
“ Please, don’t tell me that means what I think it means. Are you with child?” Antonio asked hotly. “ I’m afraid I must say yes, I am.” Isabetta admitted quietly.
“ Well, this certainly changes everything! I cannot divorce you now! It would simply ruin me.” “ Oh, it doesn’t matter, Antonio. Divorce me! No one will ever have to know! I can give birth in secret and you shall never have to set eyes upon me ever again.” Isabetta was tired of arguing and just wanted to be done with the whole situation. “ Ha! As if I would ever let my child alone with you. A conniving, sneaky woman like you is not fit to raise a child!”
Isabetta stung at his words, sure she wasn’t the best person in the world, but it didn’t mean that she was unfit to raise a child. “I’ll have you know-” Antonio cut her off before she could finish, “No, I’ve heard quite enough from you today. I am going inside to try to sort things out. I suggest you keep out of the way until I figure out how to solve this mess you’ve created.” Isabetta sank down onto the bench and let her tears fall as her husband stalked off towards the house angrily.
Isabetta waited outside until Antonio sent a servant to tell her that she was needed in the parlor right away.
“ Have you reached a decision?” she asked. “ Of course I have. What do you take me for? A simpleton? Not anymore, I’ll have you know. I am perfectly capable of making my own decisions from now on.” he answered bitterly. Isabetta held her tongue, not wanting to get into another argument.
“ But I digress.” Antonio stopped himself, “I have decided that the best plan of action will to leave our marriage, no matter how fraudulent, is to remain intact, if only for the time being. It is best for both of our families that no scandal is caused. You shall remain here until the child is born and afterwards, I shall reevaluate my decision. If the time is right, I shall divorce you then. If not, well, we shall see.”
“ I understand.” Isabetta hung her head in shame. She had caused the problem and now it was her turn to accept the consequences. “ One more thing,” Antonio said before Isabetta could leave the room, “I have penned a letter explaining his immediate dismissal from my service that I wish for you to deliver to Alberto straight away.”
Isabetta’s heart sank as she heard Alberto was going to be fired for her foolish ways, “Please, don’t fire him. It was not his fault that we were together, it was mine.” Antonio rolled his eyes, “I do not think you are in the position to ask for any favors at the moment. Besides, he is my employee and I shall dismiss him if I like. No matter who was responsible for starting the affair, it still takes two to tango. As far as I am concerned, he is just as much to blame as you are.”
“ Now, take this and be gone from my sight.” Antonio shoved the letter into Isabetta’s outstretched hands and turned to sit back down at his desk. She took it and folded it into her pocket before leaving the room with her head held high. No matter how bad she felt, she did not want to let Antonio see her cry again. She had to stay strong, if not for her own sake, then for the baby’s who was the only reason she was not out in the gutters this very minute.
The following months dragged on slowly for Isabetta. She spent most of her time alone in her chambers, shut away from the rest of the world. Antonio had no desire to see her and she could hardly stand to face her daughter, so she stayed to herself and watched as her stomach grew larger by the day.
Occasionally, she would venture downstairs for a meal or two. Dinner conversation was strained and Antonio rarely said two words to his wife. Netta, of course, noticed the tension between her parents and ate quickly so she could away as fast as she could.
Netta knew no details of her parents’ situation. She went about her days not understanding why her parents were hardly ever in the same room as each other. She was, however, thrilled by the prospect of becoming an older sister. She waited anxiously for the day her little brother or sister would be born.
Antonio spent most of his time engrossed in running his business. Now that his family life was falling apart, he had nothing else to do. He hardly spent any time with Netta any more, preferring to be working alone in his room.
Now that she had so much free time on her hands, Netta took to painting. She found that, with simple strokes, she could create pictures that almost make her forget what was going on around her.
At times, Isabetta would wander into the sunroom to watch her daughter paint, but even when she did, all she would do was lay down for a rest. She noticed that this pregnancy sapped much more of her energy than the last one had.
Now that there was no more infant to care for, Maria was promoted to nurse. She cared for Netta while supervising her education and giving her the attention she lacked from her own parents.
Maria’s daughter, Leontina, was also one of the staff. Since she was now old enough to care for herself, she became Netta’s personal maid. She cleaned up the nursery and acted as companion to her mistress.
If she finished her chores early, Tina was permitted to join Netta in her daily studies. Even though they were of different social rank, Netta enjoyed learning new things with her best friend and even helping Tina to learn to read.
Days went slowly, each following the same schedule. Netta rose, dressed, studied, took supper with her father (and sometimes her mother), played a bit, and then went to bed. Somewhere along the line, her life had shifted from her carefree days spent playing with her parents to the now boring routine, and she was determined to figure out why. Every night, she begged her nanny to tell her what had transpired between her parents.
However, every night, Maria refused to say anything on the subject so Netta was sent to bed confused and disappointed, her head still filled with questions.
“ I know what happened!” Tina whispered in her friend’s ear. After months of begging and pleading done by her best friend, Tina had done enough gossiping with the kitchen staff to figure out what had caused the rift between Antonio and Isabetta. “ The kitchen maids say that your mother was unfaithful and that your father is very mad, but will not divorce her because of the damage it would to the their families.”
Netta pulled back, shocked at what she had heard. Her mother couldn’t have been unfaithful! Her parents loved each other, she was sure of it! “ I’m sorry, Netta.” Tina said quietly.
“ It’s alright. Thank you for telling me.” Netta made her way to the table on the side of the room and put a picked up a plate of food. “I suppose it’s best I know. I would have found out some day anyways.” she muttered as she munched on a bit of pastry.
Tina sat in the seat opposite her and took a plate of her own, “Don’t fret, Netta. I’m sure they’ll find a way to fix it someday.” Netta smiled halfheartedly, wishing her friend’s words would come true but seriously doubting that anything could bring her parents together again. Not knowing exactly what to say, they finished the meal in silence.
It was just after Isabetta had gone to bed that she went into labor. There was only one problem, however: it happened three months too early. Shouting for Maria, Isabetta doubled over in pain and prayed to God that her baby would be alright.
Maria heard the screams from her room down the hall and, waking Tina for help, rushed to Isabetta’s room to deliver the baby.
Quickly lighting candles, Maria set straight to work. However, she soon realized things were not going as they should. Pausing a moment to take a few more clean towels from a pile at the end of the bed, she instructed Tina to go wake Antonio and tell him what was happening. Then she was to ask a few of the more experienced maids to come help and go back to bed. She was too young to be of any help now.
Running as fast as she could, Tina fairly flew down the hall, her bare feet slapping against the cold stones. When she reached Antonio’s door, she didn’t bother to knock before entering, trusting that she wouldn’t interrupt anything.
Hearing his door bang open in practically the middle of the night, Antonio sat straight up in bed. Seeing Tina’s young form enter his bedchamber, he got up, thoroughly confused.
“ I apologize for entering without permission, master,” Tina began, “but I was instructed to tell you that your wife has gone into labor.”
Antonio’s blood drained from his face and his jaw fell when he heard Tina’s words. This was the last thing he had expected! “In labor? Now? But it is entirely too early!” he stammered, not knowing what to do. “ I’m afraid so, sir. My mother is doing the best she can and, if you’ll excuse me, I am on my way to get more help from the other servants.” “ Of course.” Antonio waved her away absent-mindedly and began to pace.
Not knowing what to do, he soon made his way to the library. Not bothering to light a fire, he sat there in the cold for hours on end, thinking over the situation. Sure he was furious at Isabetta for tricking him in the first place and then cheating on him, but he had never really considered what would happen if he lost her. Sure he was threatening to divorce her, but deep down in his heart he had always known he could never actually go through with it. As much as he hated to admit it, he really did love his wife.
It was some time after dawn that Maria finally came to give him the news. Knocking nervously on the door, he bade her to enter and stood as she came around the couch. “ Well?” he asked impatiently, “how fares my wife and child?”
“ I am very sorry, signore . I did the best I could, but there was no way to save the child. I am deeply saddened to say that your infant daughter was stillborn.” Dead. His daughter. Dead.
The thought hit him like a ton of bricks and something inside him exploded. “How could you? I hired you to deliver the baby, not kill it!” “ As I already said, I am sorry. There was simply nothing I could do.” Maria remained calm, hoping that Antonio would quiet down some. “ And what of my wife? Is she dead too?” he asked angrily, uneasy about hearing the answer. Could his heart stand if it he lost her too?
“ I am pleased to say, sir, that she is alive, however, she fainted just after the baby was born, and hasn’t responded yet. I have several of the maids doing all they can to revive her, but so far, no such luck.” “ Very well.” Antonio turned and strode from the room, knowing he had work to do. On the inside, he let out a sigh of relief. At least his wife was still alive, if not responsive.
After dressing quickly, he went to find Netta to tell her of the bad news. She had just risen and was making her bed when he entered her room.
Waiting patiently for his daughter to finish, Antonio paced around the room, anxious about being the bearer of such bad news. “ What is it, papá?” Netta asked tentatively, seeing her father’s agitated state.
“ Something happened last night, Netta. Something bad.” Antonio began. Netta stared up at her father, afraid to hear what was coming. “ Last night, your mother had her baby, but the infant wasn’t strong enough. I’m sorry to say that she was stillborn.”
At the news, Netta began bawling, “D-dead? My sister is dead?!” “ Shhh. It’s ok, sweetheart. The baby is in a better place now and your mother will be better soon.” “ Mother is sick too?!” Netta exclaimed as she cried even harder.
Antonio cursed himself inwardly for not breaking the news more gently. “She will be alright. Don’t worry. She’ll be alright.” Antonio put his arms around Netta and rocked her back and forth, trying to get her to calm down.
A couple of hours later, Netta had calmed down enough to dress for the day. Seeking out her best friend, she told Tina what had happened and the two walked solemnly down the stairs to wait on the bench by the front door for Antonio.
“ How are you doing, dear?” he asked, hugging his daughter tightly. “ Better.” she whispered into his ear. She had taken the news hard this morning so Antonio had decided to send her to stay at her uncle’s house until things calmed down a bit around home.
“ I’ve penned a letter that I wish you to take to your uncle Piero. While I have no doubt you and Leontina will be able to stay for a few days, this letter will explain everything, should he have any questions.” “ Yes, father.” she answered, taking the letter.
Netta gave her father one last hug before clutching the letter tightly in her fist and, walking next to Tina, went to get into the carriage that was waiting by the street.