Posted in 1280s, alternative history, Dante, Middle Ages, Writing

WeWriWa—Recovery mission completed


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’ve returned to my alternative history about Dante and Beatrice, which I recently resumed after many months of hiatus. It’s now December 1287, and Dante has just become a widower at 22 years old (which didn’t happen in real life). Beatrice is in his house recovering from a very serious illness and a terrible beating her husband gave her before sailing to Cyprus on business.

Three days later, Dante has gone to her house in another part of town with her father and several servants to retrieve her belongings. The servants were horrified to discover the corpses of Beatrice’s maidservants, whom she reported had died of illness shortly before she left. However, her father is insistent that this mission proceed without delay.

This comes a bit after last week’s excerpt.

“We’re taking this cupboard,” Ser Folco announced. “Cilia and I gave it to Bice as one of her wedding presents, and everything in it belongs to her. Be very careful not to break the glass or let the religious books fall out.”

His three manservants heaved it onto their backs and slowly made their way to the stairs.

“The lady’s jewelry is in this strongbox,” Galfrido reported. “I don’t see any of her husband’s belongings here.”

“Then we’ll take that too,” Ser Folco said. “We’re not leaving this house without every single possession Bice brought here or acquired since she married Mone.”

Two hours later, we began the return journey to Via Santa Margherita, and not a second too soon. The stench of the bloated, putrefying corpses seemed to be growing stronger, which had brought on the sickeningly familiar sensation of lightheadedness.

The ten lines end here. A few more follow to finish the scene.

My condition was exacerbated by the relentless images of de ’Bardi beating Beatrice and having relations with her. The more I thought about that, the more gruesome and detailed the pictures in my mind became. I prayed I wouldn’t pass out in the street.

“After I take care of the funeral arrangements for those poor unfortunate ladies, I’ll make inquiries into the dismissed manservants,” Ser Folco said. “They’ll be able to testify to Bice’s honorable conduct. Every time I think about Mone’s baseless, obscene accusation, my anger is renewed a hundredfold! My most virtuous daughter is not a shameless harlot! Had I known what Mone is really all about, I never would’ve sent him to my Cypriot bank or let him work with me at all. Cilia and I will be so much more careful about arranging our other daughters’ marriages. Having money and coming from an important family mean nothing when they’re not accompanied by a noble character and kind heart.”

Ser Folco continued ranting against de ’Bardi the entire way back to our neighborhood. In all the years I’d known him, he’d never used such strong language before or so openly criticized anyone.


Writer of historical fiction sagas and series, with elements of women's fiction, romance, and Bildungsroman. Born in the wrong generation on several fronts.

4 thoughts on “WeWriWa—Recovery mission completed

  1. Good for Folco for defending his daughter now. It’s a shame he didn’t see the groom’s true colors before the wedding. As difficult as it already was for Dante, I wonder how he’s handling Folco’s ranting. Other than agreeing with it, of course.


  2. The moment we *didn’t see the husband’s belongings* – filled me with…

    And how lovely she is being called Bice.

    There is a book about arranged Italian marriages by Donna Jo Napoli [what do you think of her as a historical-fictionist?].

    And I think of more modern ones like the movie THE PROMISE where people were paired by letter and airmail – often to Australia and New Zealand.

    Clearly Mone has neither a kind heart nor a noble nature.

    And the Cypriots are paying for it.

    Hoping the manservants come through in favour of Bice – and that we see THEIR noble natures and kind hearts shine through.

    [otherwise they’d not have worked so long nor in such an intimate role!]


  3. My curiosity is about the status and power of the Strongbox in the Middle Ages.

    I know that over the past five hundred years we have had safes and other means of securing our valuables – spiritual and sentimental as well as the ones that are material.

    “Would they have been called that back then?”

    And “What was the Medieval Italian name for the thing?”


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