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“Buon giorno bambina!” Margherita spoke loudly as she came into Viola’s chambers without knocking as usual. This was the f...
“Yes, mamma. I’m back by my bed.”<br />Margherita followed her daughter’s voice down the short hallway and came upon a sce...
“Yes, I’m just going to put her down for a nap once she’s finished and then I’ll be out done. Do you want to go find a sea...
“You know, I’m sure Niccolo is up do no good.” Margherita spoke from her position on a bench in the front room of Viola’s ...
“I don’t think we need to worry about that.” Viola came into the room proudly showing off her slightly rounded stomach.<br...
“It’s a recent discovery. Trust me; I was just as excited as you are!”<br />
“Well, this time it has to be a boy. You’ll see; we won’t fail this time! I’ll bring over some more concoctions for you to...
“No I want to play with that man.” Renata grabbed at the figurine in Alessandra’s hand until she succeeded in taking it aw...
Alessandra made no complaint and chose a different figurine to tromp across the drawbridge of the castle while making the ...
Alessandra listened to her little sister and took the man in the red tunic and made him into a horse. Playing at her castl...
Margherita usually steered clear of any of the children’s rooms, but not today. She threw the door open dramatically and p...
Alessandra gave both of the figurines to Renata and stood. She shifted and fidgeted with her dress under the steady gaze o...
“Me? Help with the birth? But I don’t know how!” Alessandra held her hands out in disbelief. Sure she had read a few medic...
“Don’t be stupid, girl. You’ll be helping with the preparations, not actually delivering. That’s what we have a midwife fo...
While Alessandra set the toddler down in a corner and warned her to behave while she was left alone for a bit, Margherita ...
Alessandra followed nervously; she had never done anything like this before. She saw Viola lying comfortably on her bed wi...
“What would you like me to do?”<br />“Don’t just stand there, that’s for sure!” Viola spoke sharply towards Alessandra, bu...
“Go downstairs and wait for the midwife to arrive, show her upstairs, set a pot of water over the fire to boil, bring a bo...
“Now hop to it!” Margherita shooed the girl from the room and turned her attention to Viola.<br />
Alessandra did as she was told. She waited patiently downstairs for the midwife to arrive. When she did, Alessandra took h...
To keep Renata from making a fuss, she brought in Giac’s old set of blocks for her to play with.<br />
She spent most of the afternoon running up and down the stairs. Renata needed much attention and the job fell to Alessandr...
When she wasn’t making funny noises and clomping the figurines across bridges and houses, she was answering the door and a...
She even set a pot of water to boiling and kept a fresh supply of scalding liquid on supply at all times, just as Margheri...
When Niccolo came home that afternoon, it was Alessandra who greeted him at the door. “Papa! The baby is coming!”<br />
Niccolo broke into a smile, “Really? That’s fantastic!” He gave Alessandra a quick hug and ran off, taking the stairs two ...
He dashed into his room and locked the door behind him. He knelt in front of his crucifix and clasped his hands together t...
By the time the sun set that evening, Alessandra hadn’t been able to keep her eyes open a second longer. Tucking Renata in...
She had been sleeping for a few hours when she was woken up by a rather loud scream coming from Viola. The noise startled ...
Walking down the short hall to Viola’s bedroom, she peered through the doorway and saw Viola seated on a short stool and s...
Viola moaned and squealed and generally complained while the midwife rolled her eyes. Good Lord, this woman will have us a...
A few seconds later, Alessandra heard a baby cry and a large round of cheers went up among the ladies in the room. Alessan...
Instead she stepped back and waited for the midwife to take the baby and leave the room in the direction of the water basi...
“That, my dear, is a boy! Meet your new brother!” The midwife chuckled at Alessandra’s reaction to her first glimpse of a ...
“Ha-ha, I do know that, little one. But you’d probably best get used to helping out with this little one.” She dunked the ...
“Sure.” The midwife had finished bathing the baby and held out her hand for a clean towel which Alessandra immediately pla...
“I should hope so!” The midwife allowed Alessandra to coo at the baby for a bit longer before drawing the baby close to he...
At the same time, Margherita was tucking an exhausted Viola into bed. After her long day she was grateful for her mother’s...
“Yes, my darling. It’s a boy!” Margherita whispered excitedly into her ear. “You’ve done well, Viola. I couldn’t have aske...
A large smile played on Viola’s lips as she drifted off to sleep.<br />
The next several weeks were quite hectic for the Moretti household. Viola found herself completely wrapped around her son’...
The days following his birth brought around several friends and well-wishers who came bearing gifts by the dozens. Cloth, ...
Viola’s recovery was a slow one but whether it was because of her flair for the dramatic or because there was a legitimate...
First up was arranging his baptism. Three short days after his birth, the baby was carried to the church and christened Ni...
With her personal maid acting most of the time as a nanny for the two small children, Viola had unofficially taken on her ...
And the worst part was that her team was growing.<br />_  _<br />
While lying about in recovery, Viola took the time to plan. News of the outside world brought mainly from her mother gave ...
“I made your favorite: spaghetti!” she motioned towards the large plate of pasta that was sitting in the middle of the tab...
“Indeed I am! Thank you.” Niccolo took a heaping plateful and seated himself at the head of the table. “Why are you up so ...
“Well, I was, but I simply had to speak with you tonight. It’s about my brother.”<br />“Your brother?”<br />“Yes; and Giac...
“As you well know, my brother runs a very successful textile business. As of late, it’s been expanding at such a rate that...
“So I thought, ‘what a perfect job for Giacomo!’” Viola smiled eagerly as she spoke but Niccolo started to shake his head ...
“Now, Viola,” he set down his fork and looked his wife in the eye, “I’ll agree with you that it’s a good opportunity, but ...
“Yes, but can we really afford it? The university is so expensive and I don’t think they will take him in on scholarship. ...
“But-”<br />“I won’t have my wife discussing economics with me! We’ve been through this before: stay out of my business! S...
“I’ll think it over.” Niccolo agreed to her request just to get her to stop talking and turned back to his supper. “Now go...
Viola had no choice but to comply, though she asserted her stubbornness by taking a long route, and left Niccolo to finish...
“Come with me, son. I need to speak with you.” Niccolo stepped into his son’s room briefly and motioned for him to follow ...
Giac stopped what he had been doing and put down his palette and brush before following his father into his office, thinki...
When they were both inside, Niccolo shut the door tightly behind them. “Giac, I have some good news.”<br />“Good news?” Pl...
“It’s about your schooling.<br />Oh. Giac’s face fell a little, but Niccolo didn’t notice. He kept on talking, “I’ve made ...
“Yes, though it might not be exactly as you thought…It won’t be in the city of Florence. There’s a smaller university very...
“But, that means I’ll be away from home…I always thought I’d live here…like you did.” Giac wasn’t sure how he felt about l...
“I know that’s what you thought, but your only other option is to become a clerk for Viola’s brother. He trades in textile...
“Well, then it’s settled!”<br />“When do I leave?”<br />“Oh, not for about year. You’ll start attending in the fall, thoug...
“And one more thing, son. Let’s keep this to ourselves until the date of your departure gets closer. Understand?”<br />“Ye...
Giac thanked his father one more time before leaving the office.<br />
He went back to his painting, but this time he was too distracted to do much. All he could think was I’m going to universi...
While Giac dedicated himself to his studies, Alessandra did the same, though in secret. With so much pressure on her to he...
One night six months after the birth of Nico, she desperately wanted to finish her nightly Latin translation before going ...
It was Sara who found her very early the next morning. She had risen before the entire household to stir up the fires and ...
Curious, she went in and found the girl sleeping deeply on the floor with a guttering candle throwing shadows across the w...
Scooping her up gently, Sara tucked her into bed and blew out the candle. What the poor girl was doing sleeping on the flo...
Sara turned to go, but stopped when she saw the notebook lying in her path. She recognized it instantly; Giac had several ...
Once the rest of the household had woken, Sara went nervously to her mistress’ chambers with Alessandra’s notebook in hand...
She went into Viola’s chambers without knocking. She was still flipping through the pages and was ignored by Margherita an...
“I found something, Signora.” Sara offered the book to her mistress uncertainly.<br />“Is that it?” Viola looked at the bo...
Sara kept her hand out, “I beg your pardon, Signora, but it’s not Giac’s. It belongs to Alessandra.”<br />“What?!” An angr...
Margherita picked it up from where it landed and took her turn to look through it, shaking her head all the while. “If I w...
“You’re right mother!” Viola turned to Sara and commanded, “Bring her in here!”<br />“But Signora, surely-“<br />“I said b...
Sara bent her head and hastened from the room, silently berating herself for going to her mistress at all in the first pla...
“You asked for me?” Alessandra asked nervously as she came into Viola’s chamber. She had running frantically all over the ...
She looked past her furious stepmother and saw Margherita sitting with a smug expression, holding the notebook.<br />“How ...
All the pent-up anger Alessandra had been holding back for so long flared dangerously inside her. This was the storm she h...
“Viola?” Margherita spoke up from her position in the background in a tone that seemed to say: Are you going to take that?...
“For what? For learning? For wanting to better myself? I hate to break it to you, Viola, but no matter what you do to me, ...
“You will not! My father will never allow it!<br />“Your father will never know! And if you so much as think about running...
“You are not my mother!” Alessandra was screaming now, “My mother was beautiful, kind, and gracious. And most of all, she ...
Viola reeled back as if she had been hit. She opened and closed her mouth a few times, searching for words while Alessandr...
So she did. Hard.<br />
The blow sent Alessandra reeling back and tears pricked her eyes. She was too stunned to speak so she turned and yanked th...
Alessandra turned sharply on her heel and marched back into the room with her head held high and her hands balled into fis...
Viola snorted in return, “I doubt that. Your father loves me more than he does you. You’re nothing but a stupid little gir...
With that, she bolted from the room again and ignored the shouts she heard coming from Viola.<br />She kept running.<br />...
Down the stairs.<br />
Out the door.<br />
Across the yard.<br />Her legs refused to stop; it felt too good to get away.<br />Away from Viola. From Margherita. From ...
She made it all the way through town before she slowed down. Finding herself alone in the city, she became a bit frightene...
Coming onto the school grounds, she walked around until she found the east entrance which she knew Giac came out of every ...
Finding a safe corner, she pressed her back against the stone and let her tears fall.<br />
Giac was the last student out that afternoon, having stayed late to do some work in the library. Alessandra had stayed in ...
When she finally saw her brother coming down the stairs, she jumped up, brushed the dirt off her dress, and called out to ...
With a confused expression Giac walked over to his sister and asked, “What on earth are you doing here?”<br />
“I-I…” Alessandra tried to explain the situation, but her words were choked off by tears.<br />“What’s wrong?!” Giac knelt...
Alessandra forced an explanation out in between sobs, “Viola found my workbook. And she yelled at me. And I yelled back. A...
“She what!?” Giac stood up quickly, shocked to hear that Viola had dared lay a hand on Alessandra. She went on crying as h...
“Come with me.” He put his arm on her back and began to pull her away from the school.<br />“But where are we going? I’m n...
“So where are we going?”<br />“Somewhere that will cheer you up. Just follow me.”<br />
“Are we going to the fish shop?”<br />“No.”<br />“The market?”<br />“No.”<br />
“A tavern?”<br />“No!”<br />“Why won’t you tell me?”<br />“Just be patient!”<br />Giac steered his sister down a small sid...
“What’s here?” Alessandra looked around, unimpressed. It was a small piazza with only a few people milling about.<br />Gia...
They spent the afternoon together, running back and forth across the piazza and enjoying the entertainment that was provid...
They took a short break to purchase supper several hours later. Giac ordered two plates from a small stand and they both t...
“What’s wrong?”<br />“I was just thinking. About Viola.” She pushed the food around on her plate as she spoke.<br />“Didn’...
“I know, it’s just that…well, I said some very nasty things to her and I’m starting to feel like maybe I shouldn’t have.”<...
Giac smiled in approval, “Well, it’s all true! Don’t feel bad about telling it to her face. I’ve been longing to do so for...
“You didn’t!” Giac’s mouth hung open as what Alessandra had said became clear to him.<br />“But I did! I cursed her to the...
The picture that formed in Giac’s head of his little sister so angry that she wished eternal damnation on someone was so f...
“What do you mean?” Alessandra’s serious mood was back.<br />“I’m going to university this fall, Alessandra.”<br />“I know...
“What? You’re leaving? You cannot leave me alone in the house with Viola and her minions! She’ll have my hide as soon as y...
“What about my education? Who will teach me one you’re gone?”<br />“How about we cross that bridge when we come to it? It’...
Alessandra answered “Fine” and ate the last few bites of her supper.<br />“Come, now, don’t be sad. Let’s have some more f...
“Come on; I know what will brighten your mood. Let’s do some shopping! I have some of my weekly allowance left and I think...
Unable to resist shopping, Alessandra pushed the thought of Giac’s impending departure from her mind and followed her brot...
The smell of new cloth filled her nose and delighted her considerably. Swept back into the cheerful mood emanating from ev...
She even went so far as to try her first sip of strong ale while Giac’s back was turned.<br />
* * *<br />Giac pushed the heavy wood door open slowly and glanced around. Good, nobody’s here. Gripping the piece of parc...
He sat down on the bed and pulled the pillow back towards his body. Placing the paper face down carefully as to not wrinkl...
Leaving the room, he made a quick detour by his own to grab a hat and cloak. He donned both garments as he descended the s...
The crisp air of late summer blew outside as he walked towards his family.<br />They had all gathered to see him off.<br />
“Renata, Nico: farewell.” Giac bowed slightly to his small half-siblings and they wished him Godspeed in return.<br />
Giac stepped to the left and cooed at the newest addition to the family: a daughter; christened Margherita and called Ghit...
As for the woman holding the baby, Giac only gave her a curt nod. Good riddance was the thought echoing in his mind. Viola...
“Goodbye father. I shall write you as soon as I arrive.” Giac extended his hand.<br />
Niccolo accepted the handshake but pulled his son into a tight hug as well, “Be safe, my boy.”<br />
Last but not least was Alessandra. She stood at the end of the line, trying her best to hold back tears. Giac pulled her i...
He pulled back and saw that despite her watery eyes, the corners of her mouth had pulled up into the faintest of a smile. ...
He winked at her before turning to mount his horse.<br />
Viola collected her children and led them inside, saying that it was too cold to stay out for long. Indeed, the sun had re...
“Now, son,” Niccolo came around to check that everything had been tied down correctly. Alessandra stood by, just watching....
“If you are able, travel with others. I don’t know how many will be going to Pisa at this time of year, but if you come ac...
“Yes, father. If that’s it, I suppose I should be on my way now.” With one last wave to Alessandra and his father, Giac sp...
Niccolo took his daughter by the hand and pulled her back towards the house. They watched for a few seconds as the horses ...
“Suit yourself. Be in soon, though.” Niccolo shrugged his shoulders and turned to go inside.<br />
Alessandra ran to the edge of the road and waved frenetically, hoping that Giac would notice her.<br />He did and waved ba...
Alessandra watched sadly as her brother rode off to find Pisa. They clouds soon opened up and began to pour, but she still...
Per essere continuata…<br />
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The Renaissance Legacy 3.9A

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The Renaissance Legacy 3.9A

  1. 1.
  2. 2. “Buon giorno bambina!” Margherita spoke loudly as she came into Viola’s chambers without knocking as usual. This was the first time in a couple of weeks that she had come by to visit and she had been looking forward to spending more time with Renata.<br />When she didn’t see anybody in the room, she asked even louder this time, “Viola? Are you in here?”<br />
  3. 3. “Yes, mamma. I’m back by my bed.”<br />Margherita followed her daughter’s voice down the short hallway and came upon a scene that made her grimace. “Feeding the baby again?” It still rubbed her wrong that Niccolo insisted that they didn’t need a wet-nurse.<br />
  4. 4. “Yes, I’m just going to put her down for a nap once she’s finished and then I’ll be out done. Do you want to go find a seat?” Viola rocked Renata back and forth a bit, trying to get her to close her eyes. <br />Margherita gave one last disapproving glance at the baby and left the room. No matter how much her mother disapproved, whether because the baby was a girl or because she was fed by her mother, Viola couldn’t help but dote upon the infant. There was a special place in her heart reserved for her daughter that nobody else could fill.<br />
  5. 5. “You know, I’m sure Niccolo is up do no good.” Margherita spoke from her position on a bench in the front room of Viola’s chambers.<br />“Is that so, mother?” Viola answered as quietly as she could manage without exciting the baby.<br />“Yes. I’ve been thinking and I believe that his whole reason for forcing you to breastfeed Renata is to prevent you from getting pregnant again. The baby is almost a year old and most wives would have a second one on the way already, but not you. No; he wants to wait. Perhaps he will stop visiting you altogether by the time Renata has moved on to solid food!”<br />
  6. 6. “I don’t think we need to worry about that.” Viola came into the room proudly showing off her slightly rounded stomach.<br />Margherita’s jaw fell open. Without a baby blocking her view, she could clearly see that Viola did in fact have a second child on the way. “Viola! Why did you not tell me?”<br />
  7. 7. “It’s a recent discovery. Trust me; I was just as excited as you are!”<br />
  8. 8. “Well, this time it has to be a boy. You’ll see; we won’t fail this time! I’ll bring over some more concoctions for you to drink… Just take it easy and I’ll be back in no time.” Margherita fairly ran from the room with her hands waving about above her head.<br />Viola rolled her eyes at her mother and shouted a polite “goodbye” after her retreating figure.<br />
  9. 9.
  10. 10. “No I want to play with that man.” Renata grabbed at the figurine in Alessandra’s hand until she succeeded in taking it away for herself. Immediately she turned him upside-down and banged his head on the roof a few times for good measure.<br />
  11. 11. Alessandra made no complaint and chose a different figurine to tromp across the drawbridge of the castle while making the noises of a horse. “Too bad we don’t have any real horses for them to ride, right Renata?”<br />“Here!” Renata gave back the man she had stolen, “Pretend this man is a horse. Ride him on the roof!”<br />
  12. 12. Alessandra listened to her little sister and took the man in the red tunic and made him into a horse. Playing at her castle had recently become a favorite pastime of the half-sisters. With her father and brother away at school all day and Viola lying about in her room all day, Alessandra had been surprised to discover that she actually liked having a little sister. <br />
  13. 13. Margherita usually steered clear of any of the children’s rooms, but not today. She threw the door open dramatically and pointed to Alessandra. “You, girl; come here.”<br />
  14. 14. Alessandra gave both of the figurines to Renata and stood. She shifted and fidgeted with her dress under the steady gaze of the formidable woman.<br />“Come with me. Viola has gone into labor and we need an extra pair of hands. You’re of an age now that you’ll actually be helpful.”<br />
  15. 15. “Me? Help with the birth? But I don’t know how!” Alessandra held her hands out in disbelief. Sure she had read a few medical pamphlets on babies and how they were born, but that was nothing compared to real-life experience. Besides, if she did one thing wrong, Viola and Margherita would skin her alive.<br />
  16. 16. “Don’t be stupid, girl. You’ll be helping with the preparations, not actually delivering. That’s what we have a midwife for.”<br />Alessandra looked sheepishly at the ground, “Oh. I didn’t know.”<br />“Just come on!” Margherita huffed out of the room with Alessandra followed close behind, hurrying as quickly as she could while carrying Renata.<br />
  17. 17. While Alessandra set the toddler down in a corner and warned her to behave while she was left alone for a bit, Margherita took off to find her daughter.<br />
  18. 18. Alessandra followed nervously; she had never done anything like this before. She saw Viola lying comfortably on her bed with Margherita hovering attentively around her. One of Viola’s friends who had been visiting earlier that afternoon was busying herself arranging a tray of meats and cheeses at the end of the bed.<br />
  19. 19. “What would you like me to do?”<br />“Don’t just stand there, that’s for sure!” Viola spoke sharply towards Alessandra, but deferred to her mother when she could actually think of a task for her to perform.<br />
  20. 20. “Go downstairs and wait for the midwife to arrive, show her upstairs, set a pot of water over the fire to boil, bring a bowl and fresh towels, and please keep Renata entertained. I don’t want her causing a fuss and disrupting Viola. Also, I’ve let a few of Viola’s friends know that she’s gone into labor and, if they arrive, show them in.”<br />“Yes ma’am.”<br />
  21. 21. “Now hop to it!” Margherita shooed the girl from the room and turned her attention to Viola.<br />
  22. 22. Alessandra did as she was told. She waited patiently downstairs for the midwife to arrive. When she did, Alessandra took her up to Viola’s room and helped her set up her instruments.<br />
  23. 23. To keep Renata from making a fuss, she brought in Giac’s old set of blocks for her to play with.<br />
  24. 24. She spent most of the afternoon running up and down the stairs. Renata needed much attention and the job fell to Alessandra as the nanny was busy aiding Viola.<br />
  25. 25. When she wasn’t making funny noises and clomping the figurines across bridges and houses, she was answering the door and accepting deliveries. Apparently word had spread quickly about Viola going into labor and many prospering families had taken it upon themselves to send over goodies for the new mother and baby.<br />
  26. 26. She even set a pot of water to boiling and kept a fresh supply of scalding liquid on supply at all times, just as Margherita had commanded.<br />
  27. 27. When Niccolo came home that afternoon, it was Alessandra who greeted him at the door. “Papa! The baby is coming!”<br />
  28. 28. Niccolo broke into a smile, “Really? That’s fantastic!” He gave Alessandra a quick hug and ran off, taking the stairs two at a time.<br />
  29. 29. He dashed into his room and locked the door behind him. He knelt in front of his crucifix and clasped his hands together tightly. Dearest Lord, please watch over my wife…Dear Jesus…Mary…<br />
  30. 30. By the time the sun set that evening, Alessandra hadn’t been able to keep her eyes open a second longer. Tucking Renata in behind her, she laid down on the bench for just a second and promptly fell asleep. The rest of the ladies took over her duties and allowed her to get some rest.<br />
  31. 31. She had been sleeping for a few hours when she was woken up by a rather loud scream coming from Viola. The noise startled her and she nearly fell off her seat. Gathering her wits and rubbing the sleep from her eyes, she quickly made sure Renata was alright and set off to see where everybody had disappeared to.<br />
  32. 32. Walking down the short hall to Viola’s bedroom, she peered through the doorway and saw Viola seated on a short stool and surrounded by several ladies and attendants. She watched on with a sense of strange curiosity. She certainly was glad she wasn’t responsible for any of the complicated process she was witnessing, but couldn’t bring herself to leave.<br />
  33. 33. Viola moaned and squealed and generally complained while the midwife rolled her eyes. Good Lord, this woman will have us all deaf by the time this baby is born! Hasn’t she done this before?!<br />
  34. 34. A few seconds later, Alessandra heard a baby cry and a large round of cheers went up among the ladies in the room. Alessandra shoved in close to try to see the baby, but couldn’t get past the first layer of skirts surrounding Viola.<br />
  35. 35. Instead she stepped back and waited for the midwife to take the baby and leave the room in the direction of the water basin that was sitting next to the fireplace.<br />Alessandra followed close on her heels, trying to get a look at the baby in the midwife’s arms. “What’s that?” she asked in shock when she finally got a good look.<br />
  36. 36. “That, my dear, is a boy! Meet your new brother!” The midwife chuckled at Alessandra’s reaction to her first glimpse of a male.<br />“Oh. I didn’t know…he looks so different than Renata. I’ve never had a little brother before, you know.”<br />
  37. 37. “Ha-ha, I do know that, little one. But you’d probably best get used to helping out with this little one.” She dunked the squealing baby boy into the hot water and proceeded to scrub him clean. “Heavens knows this won’t be the first male you’ll see; just wait until you are married.”<br />“When I’m married? Oh, you mean that I’ll have sons of my own someday?”<br />
  38. 38. “Sure.” The midwife had finished bathing the baby and held out her hand for a clean towel which Alessandra immediately placed in her hand. She dried him off and swaddled him tightly before presenting him once more to his sister.<br />“He looks better now; much cleaner.”<br />
  39. 39. “I should hope so!” The midwife allowed Alessandra to coo at the baby for a bit longer before drawing the baby close to her and gesturing towards the door. “Why don’t you go tell your father that he’s been delivered a healthy son?”<br />“Okay!” Alessandra left the room in haste, eager to spread the happy news to her father. Oh, how happy he will be to hear! But I daresay Giac will be decidedly less joyous…<br />
  40. 40. At the same time, Margherita was tucking an exhausted Viola into bed. After her long day she was grateful for her mother’s presence.<br />As the blankets were pulled up to her chin, she mumbled in a sleepy tone, “And the baby? Is it a boy?”<br />
  41. 41. “Yes, my darling. It’s a boy!” Margherita whispered excitedly into her ear. “You’ve done well, Viola. I couldn’t have asked for anything better.”<br />
  42. 42. A large smile played on Viola’s lips as she drifted off to sleep.<br />
  43. 43. The next several weeks were quite hectic for the Moretti household. Viola found herself completely wrapped around her son’s little finger. After all, it was he who secured her place in the household.<br />
  44. 44. The days following his birth brought around several friends and well-wishers who came bearing gifts by the dozens. Cloth, pastries, cookies, wine, and small trinkets for the baby piled up in Viola’s chambers and the task fell to Alessandra to help sort things out.<br />
  45. 45. Viola’s recovery was a slow one but whether it was because of her flair for the dramatic or because there was a legitimate medical reason, no one knew nor did they have time to care. The new arrival became the center of attention for the family.<br />
  46. 46. First up was arranging his baptism. Three short days after his birth, the baby was carried to the church and christened Niccolo Moretti II, Nico for short, by the priest. Viola had to remain at home during the ceremony and insisted that Alessandra remain with her.<br />
  47. 47. With her personal maid acting most of the time as a nanny for the two small children, Viola had unofficially taken on her stepdaughter as her new lady in waiting. Alessandra did not protest though it irritated her, nor did she tell Giac about her new situation. She knew that telling him would bring about another argument and only serve to divide the family further. At times it seemed like there were two sided warring for control of the household. It was her and Giac against Viola, Renata, and now Nico.<br />
  48. 48. And the worst part was that her team was growing.<br />_ _<br />
  49. 49. While lying about in recovery, Viola took the time to plan. News of the outside world brought mainly from her mother gave Viola an idea; an idea which she took the opportunity to present to her husband one night when he came home late from a tutoring appointment.<br />
  50. 50. “I made your favorite: spaghetti!” she motioned towards the large plate of pasta that was sitting in the middle of the table and smiled. “I thought you might be hungry after such a late night!”<br />
  51. 51. “Indeed I am! Thank you.” Niccolo took a heaping plateful and seated himself at the head of the table. “Why are you up so late? Shouldn’t you be in bed?”<br />
  52. 52. “Well, I was, but I simply had to speak with you tonight. It’s about my brother.”<br />“Your brother?”<br />“Yes; and Giacomo!”<br />“What could those two possibly have in common?”<br />
  53. 53. “As you well know, my brother runs a very successful textile business. As of late, it’s been expanding at such a rate that he wishes to take on an assistant. A clerk, if you will.”<br />“Yes…”<br />
  54. 54. “So I thought, ‘what a perfect job for Giacomo!’” Viola smiled eagerly as she spoke but Niccolo started to shake his head no. “Just hear me out: It’s a well-paying job and Giacomo isn’t getting any younger. If he was going to have an apprenticeship he should have started years ago and everybody knows there aren’t many other prospects out there for a man of his rank. It’ll be a good opportunity for him to work with my brother. He will get money, experience, and learn a trade…” and get out of the house.<br />
  55. 55. “Now, Viola,” he set down his fork and looked his wife in the eye, “I’ll agree with you that it’s a good opportunity, but I don’t want my son to run off and join a trade just yet. I’ve been planning for years on him studying at the university before beginning a career. Just like I did.”<br />
  56. 56. “Yes, but can we really afford it? The university is so expensive and I don’t think they will take him in on scholarship. Why cannot he leave sooner rather than later? He will be bringing in money to the household…”<br />“Now, now, Viola. There is more than one university around here and don’t worry about finances. I’ve got it all under control.”<br />
  57. 57. “But-”<br />“I won’t have my wife discussing economics with me! We’ve been through this before: stay out of my business! Stick to raising the children; that is your duty.”<br />Viola shifted uncomfortably in her chair. Things weren’t turned out as she’d hoped. “At least keep it in mind?”<br />
  58. 58. “I’ll think it over.” Niccolo agreed to her request just to get her to stop talking and turned back to his supper. “Now go back to bed.”<br />
  59. 59. Viola had no choice but to comply, though she asserted her stubbornness by taking a long route, and left Niccolo to finish eating in peace.<br />_ _<br />
  60. 60. “Come with me, son. I need to speak with you.” Niccolo stepped into his son’s room briefly and motioned for him to follow as he left.<br />
  61. 61. Giac stopped what he had been doing and put down his palette and brush before following his father into his office, thinking: Whatever he wants, it has to be serious.<br />
  62. 62. When they were both inside, Niccolo shut the door tightly behind them. “Giac, I have some good news.”<br />“Good news?” Please say Viola’s leaving!<br />
  63. 63. “It’s about your schooling.<br />Oh. Giac’s face fell a little, but Niccolo didn’t notice. He kept on talking, “I’ve made some inquires and it seems you’ll be able to study at university after all!”<br />“What?” Giac perked back up again. This really was good news!<br />
  64. 64. “Yes, though it might not be exactly as you thought…It won’t be in the city of Florence. There’s a smaller university very recently established by the Medici family in Pisa that you’ll be attending. It’s a small town with a struggling economy which is why I’ll be able to get you room and board so cheaply. The university there has been running for less than a month and they are in desperate need of students to attend their lectures, so I know there’ll be plenty of space for you.”<br />
  65. 65. “But, that means I’ll be away from home…I always thought I’d live here…like you did.” Giac wasn’t sure how he felt about leaving his family behind for so long. Sure he could visit every once in a while and send letters, but it wouldn’t be the same as seeing them every day. Also, what about Alessandra? Could he leave her here all alone to face Viola? And what about everything he was teaching her?<br />
  66. 66. “I know that’s what you thought, but your only other option is to become a clerk for Viola’s brother. He trades in textiles and is looking for an assistant and your name was suggested to him.”<br />“No thank you!” Giac said quickly, “I think I’d rather study at the University of Pisa.”<br />
  67. 67. “Well, then it’s settled!”<br />“When do I leave?”<br />“Oh, not for about year. You’ll start attending in the fall, though you’ll probably need a good two weeks to travel there and get settled in.”<br />Giac breathed a sigh of relief. He wasn’t leaving too soon at least.<br />
  68. 68. “And one more thing, son. Let’s keep this to ourselves until the date of your departure gets closer. Understand?”<br />“Yes, father!” Giac drew his father into a hug. “Thank you!”<br />“You’re a bright boy, son. You’ll do me proud. I’m sure of it.”<br />
  69. 69. Giac thanked his father one more time before leaving the office.<br />
  70. 70. He went back to his painting, but this time he was too distracted to do much. All he could think was I’m going to university!<br />_ _<br />
  71. 71. While Giac dedicated himself to his studies, Alessandra did the same, though in secret. With so much pressure on her to help out around the house, Alessandra barely found much time to get much done on her own. She started staying up later and later each night to push through the assignments Giac left for her and it wasn’t too long before she made a mistake.<br />
  72. 72. One night six months after the birth of Nico, she desperately wanted to finish her nightly Latin translation before going to bed. She had already been studying for several hours and could barely keep her eyes open, but refused to give up. I’ll just take a short break and then I shall finish quickly. Just a short break…<br />
  73. 73. It was Sara who found her very early the next morning. She had risen before the entire household to stir up the fires and begin preparing breakfast when she saw the light coming from underneath Alessandra’s door.<br />
  74. 74. Curious, she went in and found the girl sleeping deeply on the floor with a guttering candle throwing shadows across the wall.<br />
  75. 75. Scooping her up gently, Sara tucked her into bed and blew out the candle. What the poor girl was doing sleeping on the floor, she couldn’t guess.<br />
  76. 76. Sara turned to go, but stopped when she saw the notebook lying in her path. She recognized it instantly; Giac had several of them stored in his room. Viola won’t like this one bit…<br />
  77. 77. Once the rest of the household had woken, Sara went nervously to her mistress’ chambers with Alessandra’s notebook in hand. She flipped curiously through the pages to be sure she wasn’t mistaken. Nope, not wrong at all. Pages and pages of Latin, Greek, French, mathematics, science…all written in Alessandra’s hand.<br />
  78. 78. She went into Viola’s chambers without knocking. She was still flipping through the pages and was ignored by Margherita and Viola. The older lady had been coming by nearly every morning every since she found out that her daughter was expecting another baby. She stood by patiently until the ladies noticed her presence and stopped conversing. “Yes, Sara?”<br />
  79. 79. “I found something, Signora.” Sara offered the book to her mistress uncertainly.<br />“Is that it?” Viola looked at the book with disgust. “That’s one of Giacomo’s. I’ve seen them littered all about the house; just put it back in his room.”<br />
  80. 80. Sara kept her hand out, “I beg your pardon, Signora, but it’s not Giac’s. It belongs to Alessandra.”<br />“What?!” An angry expression contorted Viola’s face and she snatched the notebook away and began to flip furiously through the pages. “Mother do you see what this is?” she threw the book aside and leapt out of her seat.<br />
  81. 81. Margherita picked it up from where it landed and took her turn to look through it, shaking her head all the while. “If I were you, I would confront that devilish little imp. She’s deliberately gone behind your back for God knows how long and I say she needs punished! And this time,” she stood up and smiled cruelly, “don’t be soft. Give it to her good.” <br />
  82. 82. “You’re right mother!” Viola turned to Sara and commanded, “Bring her in here!”<br />“But Signora, surely-“<br />“I said bring her in here! Do it now.”<br />
  83. 83. Sara bent her head and hastened from the room, silently berating herself for going to her mistress at all in the first place. What have I done?<br />
  84. 84. “You asked for me?” Alessandra asked nervously as she came into Viola’s chamber. She had running frantically all over the house that morning, searching high and low for the notebook she had misplaced. Her heart sank when she saw Viola’s expression.<br />
  85. 85. She looked past her furious stepmother and saw Margherita sitting with a smug expression, holding the notebook.<br />“How did you get that?” Alesssandra gestured wildly to Margherita. “It’s mine!”<br />“I know it is, you stupid little girl! What I don’t know is what possessed you to go behind my back! I’ve explicitly forbidden you from having an education.”<br />
  86. 86. All the pent-up anger Alessandra had been holding back for so long flared dangerously inside her. This was the storm she had felt coming and, for once, she was prepared to take her stand. “I don’t care what you say! I happen to like learning and I willnot give it up no matter what you say.”<br />
  87. 87. “Viola?” Margherita spoke up from her position in the background in a tone that seemed to say: Are you going to take that?<br />“Now you listen up, missy. I am the woman of the household and what I say goes. I have laid out the ground rules once before and since you have broken them, there shall be consequences.”<br />
  88. 88. “For what? For learning? For wanting to better myself? I hate to break it to you, Viola, but no matter what you do to me, I cannot unlearn.”<br />“I don’t care! I’ll have you whipped you so hard you’ll wish you’d never laid eyes on a book!”<br />
  89. 89. “You will not! My father will never allow it!<br />“Your father will never know! And if you so much as think about running off to tell him- or Giacomo- I’ll have you shipped off to a convent so far away and you’ll never see either of them again! You’ll spend the rest of your days bent on your knees, praying to God to forgive you for breaking the fourth commandment. You have not honored your mother.”<br />
  90. 90. “You are not my mother!” Alessandra was screaming now, “My mother was beautiful, kind, and gracious. And most of all, she was intelligent! She was smart and she would have been glad to have taught me everything she knew!”<br />“How do you know? Your mother is dead,” Viola sneered at Alessandra as she spoke.<br />“My mother was a thousand times better than you’ll ever be!”<br />
  91. 91. Viola reeled back as if she had been hit. She opened and closed her mouth a few times, searching for words while Alessandra looked on arrogantly, enjoying her small victory. Viola stared back, wishing she could smack that conceited look off her face.<br />
  92. 92. So she did. Hard.<br />
  93. 93. The blow sent Alessandra reeling back and tears pricked her eyes. She was too stunned to speak so she turned and yanked the door open.<br />“Get back here, Alessandra! I’m not finished with you!” Viola shouted through the open door.<br />
  94. 94. Alessandra turned sharply on her heel and marched back into the room with her head held high and her hands balled into fists. “I despise you, Viola. I despise you with my entire being!”<br />“I warned you missy…”<br />Alessandra ignored Viola’s warning, “You are nothing but conniving, narrow-minded, spiteful old cow and I pray my father will be able to see your true nature. Then we will finally be rid of you.”<br />
  95. 95. Viola snorted in return, “I doubt that. Your father loves me more than he does you. You’re nothing but a stupid little girl; he will never believe anything you have to say.”<br />Tears began to well up in Alessandra’s eyes again and her hands started shaking. “Je vous déteste.*You deserve to rot in the ninth level of hell!”<br />*I hate you.<br />
  96. 96. With that, she bolted from the room again and ignored the shouts she heard coming from Viola.<br />She kept running.<br />Through the hall.<br />
  97. 97. Down the stairs.<br />
  98. 98. Out the door.<br />
  99. 99. Across the yard.<br />Her legs refused to stop; it felt too good to get away.<br />Away from Viola. From Margherita. From working too hard. From no sleep. From being held back.<br />
  100. 100. She made it all the way through town before she slowed down. Finding herself alone in the city, she became a bit frightened and started to go towards her brother’s school. <br />
  101. 101. Coming onto the school grounds, she walked around until she found the east entrance which she knew Giac came out of every day.<br />
  102. 102. Finding a safe corner, she pressed her back against the stone and let her tears fall.<br />
  103. 103. Giac was the last student out that afternoon, having stayed late to do some work in the library. Alessandra had stayed in her corner, pressing back into the stone and praying not to be noticed by anyone else.<br />
  104. 104. When she finally saw her brother coming down the stairs, she jumped up, brushed the dirt off her dress, and called out to him.<br />
  105. 105. With a confused expression Giac walked over to his sister and asked, “What on earth are you doing here?”<br />
  106. 106. “I-I…” Alessandra tried to explain the situation, but her words were choked off by tears.<br />“What’s wrong?!” Giac knelt to put his arm around Alessandra and held her tightly, trying to get her to stop crying.<br />
  107. 107. Alessandra forced an explanation out in between sobs, “Viola found my workbook. And she yelled at me. And I yelled back. And she slapped me. And I ran out.”<br />
  108. 108. “She what!?” Giac stood up quickly, shocked to hear that Viola had dared lay a hand on Alessandra. She went on crying as he paced back and forth while thinking. Looking closely he could make out the remnants of red handprint still on her cheek and the thought made his blood boil.<br />
  109. 109. “Come with me.” He put his arm on her back and began to pull her away from the school.<br />“But where are we going? I’m not going back home!”<br />“Don’t worry, we aren’t going home. At least not until father is there; I want to have a talk with Viola tonight and his presence will keep her from doing anything rash.”<br />
  110. 110. “So where are we going?”<br />“Somewhere that will cheer you up. Just follow me.”<br />
  111. 111. “Are we going to the fish shop?”<br />“No.”<br />“The market?”<br />“No.”<br />
  112. 112. “A tavern?”<br />“No!”<br />“Why won’t you tell me?”<br />“Just be patient!”<br />Giac steered his sister down a small side street and motioned to the scene that lay before them, “We are here!”<br />
  113. 113. “What’s here?” Alessandra looked around, unimpressed. It was a small piazza with only a few people milling about.<br />Giac smiled, “I’ve come here with some school friends a couple of times. It’s much more popular at night, but, believe it or not, this little square has some of the best Carnivale festivities I’ve ever seen.”<br />“Carnivale! I’ve never been allowed to go before!” Alessandra lit up at the mention of the annual celebration.<br />“Well this year shall be different! I know it’s early yet, but let’s have some fun!”<br />
  114. 114. They spent the afternoon together, running back and forth across the piazza and enjoying the entertainment that was provided for them. Jesters, dancers, and fire-eaters were beginning to set up in the square in preparation for the full-scale celebrations that would take place that night and allowed the siblings to watch them as they practiced.<br />
  115. 115. They took a short break to purchase supper several hours later. Giac ordered two plates from a small stand and they both took their seats to wait while it was cooked. They joked while sitting but, when the food arrived, Alessandra fell oddly silent as she ate.<br />
  116. 116. “What’s wrong?”<br />“I was just thinking. About Viola.” She pushed the food around on her plate as she spoke.<br />“Didn’t I say that you weren’t to think about her this afternoon? We are supposed to be having fun and dwelling on such thoughts will only make you unhappy.”<br />
  117. 117. “I know, it’s just that…well, I said some very nasty things to her and I’m starting to feel like maybe I shouldn’t have.”<br />“What did you say?”<br />“I called her a spiteful old cow and said that our mother was a thousand times better than she will ever be.”<br />
  118. 118. Giac smiled in approval, “Well, it’s all true! Don’t feel bad about telling it to her face. I’ve been longing to do so for quite some time now.”<br />“Well, I also…You see I’ve recently finished Dante’s “Divine Comedy” and…well…I sort of told her…”<br />
  119. 119. “You didn’t!” Giac’s mouth hung open as what Alessandra had said became clear to him.<br />“But I did! I cursed her to the ninth layer to be more specific.”<br />
  120. 120. The picture that formed in Giac’s head of his little sister so angry that she wished eternal damnation on someone was so funny that he had to laugh. “You know, she probably didn’t understand that reference at all.” He was laughing so hard now he could barely speak and his joy proved contagious: Alessandra’s grim mood fell away and she smiled.<br />“So you’re not angry at what I said?”<br />“Of course not! I love what you said! Some other people might not, but I only wish I could have been there! It’s good to know you are able to defend yourself. I won’t always be here, you know.”<br />
  121. 121. “What do you mean?” Alessandra’s serious mood was back.<br />“I’m going to university this fall, Alessandra.”<br />“I know that. Everybody knows that!”<br />“Yes but I’m not going to the university in Florence. I’m leaving for the University of Pisa in the fall.”<br />
  122. 122. “What? You’re leaving? You cannot leave me alone in the house with Viola and her minions! She’ll have my hide as soon as you’re gone!”<br />“Don’t worry about that, Alessandra. I won’t leave until I’ve had a good long talk with our dear stepmother and am sure that she won’t lay a finger on you.”<br />
  123. 123. “What about my education? Who will teach me one you’re gone?”<br />“How about we cross that bridge when we come to it? It’s too early yet to worry about such details, but we will find a way. Trust me.”<br />
  124. 124. Alessandra answered “Fine” and ate the last few bites of her supper.<br />“Come, now, don’t be sad. Let’s have some more fun while we can!”<br />Alessandra reluctantly agreed and motioned for her empty plate to be cleared.<br />
  125. 125. “Come on; I know what will brighten your mood. Let’s do some shopping! I have some of my weekly allowance left and I think you’re in need of something nice and new.”<br />
  126. 126. Unable to resist shopping, Alessandra pushed the thought of Giac’s impending departure from her mind and followed her brother to a nearby stall.<br />
  127. 127. The smell of new cloth filled her nose and delighted her considerably. Swept back into the cheerful mood emanating from everyone and everything on the street, Alessandra allowed herself to let go and enjoy herself.<br />
  128. 128. She even went so far as to try her first sip of strong ale while Giac’s back was turned.<br />
  129. 129. * * *<br />Giac pushed the heavy wood door open slowly and glanced around. Good, nobody’s here. Gripping the piece of parchment in one hand, he crossed the room quickly.<br />
  130. 130. He sat down on the bed and pulled the pillow back towards his body. Placing the paper face down carefully as to not wrinkle it, he pushed the pillow back over it and pressed it into place. Perfect.<br />
  131. 131. Leaving the room, he made a quick detour by his own to grab a hat and cloak. He donned both garments as he descended the stairs. The house was oddly empty and his footsteps made loud echoes through the halls. Today’s the day.<br />
  132. 132. The crisp air of late summer blew outside as he walked towards his family.<br />They had all gathered to see him off.<br />
  133. 133. “Renata, Nico: farewell.” Giac bowed slightly to his small half-siblings and they wished him Godspeed in return.<br />
  134. 134. Giac stepped to the left and cooed at the newest addition to the family: a daughter; christened Margherita and called Ghita for short.<br />
  135. 135. As for the woman holding the baby, Giac only gave her a curt nod. Good riddance was the thought echoing in his mind. Viola barely nodded in return and otherwise ignored Giac.<br />
  136. 136. “Goodbye father. I shall write you as soon as I arrive.” Giac extended his hand.<br />
  137. 137. Niccolo accepted the handshake but pulled his son into a tight hug as well, “Be safe, my boy.”<br />
  138. 138. Last but not least was Alessandra. She stood at the end of the line, trying her best to hold back tears. Giac pulled her into a tight hug and whispered in her ear, “I left a surprise for you. You’ve got to find it.”<br />
  139. 139. He pulled back and saw that despite her watery eyes, the corners of her mouth had pulled up into the faintest of a smile. “Don’t fret, I promise to return soon to visit. Ci vediamo.” *<br />* We will see each other.<br />
  140. 140. He winked at her before turning to mount his horse.<br />
  141. 141. Viola collected her children and led them inside, saying that it was too cold to stay out for long. Indeed, the sun had recently disappeared behind a thick wall of dark clouds.<br />
  142. 142. “Now, son,” Niccolo came around to check that everything had been tied down correctly. Alessandra stood by, just watching. “Stick to the main roads and don’t forget to pick up the guards I’ve hired to accompany you. They’re waiting by the gate out of the city and you shall recognize them by the silver insignia they wear. You have your letter of hire just in case?”<br />Perched atop his horse, Giac patted a pouch at his side, “Indeed I do.”<br />
  143. 143. “If you are able, travel with others. I don’t know how many will be going to Pisa at this time of year, but if you come across any that are, stick by them. The roads are dangerous and there is security in numbers.”<br />
  144. 144. “Yes, father. If that’s it, I suppose I should be on my way now.” With one last wave to Alessandra and his father, Giac spurred his horse into movement and the hired driver did the same with the cart that would follow him carrying his personal belongings.<br />
  145. 145. Niccolo took his daughter by the hand and pulled her back towards the house. They watched for a few seconds as the horses rode off along the road before Niccolo started to go back to the house.<br />“No, papa. I want to stay outside a while longer.” Alessandra pulled her hand free of her father’s grip.<br />
  146. 146. “Suit yourself. Be in soon, though.” Niccolo shrugged his shoulders and turned to go inside.<br />
  147. 147. Alessandra ran to the edge of the road and waved frenetically, hoping that Giac would notice her.<br />He did and waved back.<br />
  148. 148. Alessandra watched sadly as her brother rode off to find Pisa. They clouds soon opened up and began to pour, but she still didn’t go inside. She stayed put long after Giac had disappeared from view.<br />As the rain soaked her dress, Alessandra stood in the mud. Without Giac, the house would be too empty. He was her one true friend and now facing life with Viola seemed impossible.<br />I suppose I’ll just have to get used to it.<br />
  149. 149. Per essere continuata…<br />

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