Welcome back to Weekend Writing Warriors and Snippet Sunday, weekly Sunday hops where writers share 8–10 sentences from a book or WIP. The rules have now been relaxed to allow a few more sentences if merited, so long as they’re clearly indicated, to avoid the creative punctuation many of us have used to stay within the limit.
I’m now sharing from my alternative history, with the working title A Dream of Peacocks. It starts on May Day 1274, when Dante met his great love and muse Beatrice Portinari, and will give them an eventual happy ending, with lots of Sturm und Drang.
This week’s excerpt comes right after last week’s, when Dante asked an apothecary employee about a good book. He was shown The Aeneid and told about Sortes Vergilianae, a fortunetelling method where people open one of Virgil’s books to a random page and put their fingers down on a line without looking.
The admission of the sin of pride recurs throughout the story, and is inspired by Dante’s statement in Purgatorio that that’s the sin he struggles with most.
“Should I say a prayer beforehand?”
“Only if you want to. God will lead you to the perfect line no matter what.”
I closed the book, shut my eyes, opened the book again, and put my right pointer finger down. When I opened my eyes, I beheld the line “fired his soul with a love of glory still to come.” I read it several times to ascertain that was what it truly said and that my finger hadn’t landed on the line above or below.
Now Reader, I know very well pride is a sin, but it’s very difficult not to have excessive pride in myself when God chose to create me with so much genius. Even as a boy, I was keenly aware of my superior intellect and abilities. Thus, seeing that line fired my own soul with a love of glory still to come.
“I’ll take it,” I told Ser Torello.
The ten lines end here. A few more follow to finish the scene.
“This book will always have a place of pride in my library. I can’t wait to start reading it.”
He glanced down at the line my finger was still resting upon. “That’s a very good line to get. May you indeed have many future glories.”
I closed the book and put it in my basket. Another employee, Ser Alberto, totaled up my purchases and quoted me the sum. Most of the price, which cost me all my florins, came from The Aeneid, but it was more than worth it. Quality is never cheap.
All during my walk home, I couldn’t stop thinking about what good fortune I’d had in such a short span of time. I now attended Mass with the Portinaris six days a week; I was having nice new clothes made; Babbo had found a lucrative new business opportunity which would improve our financial status; and my hand had been guided to a very fortuitous prophecy.
My prayers of May Day had truly been answered, much faster than I expected.