WeWriWa—Ser Folco’s business wraps up

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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 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 comes right after last week’s excerpt, when Beatrice’s father Folco discovered not only that his daughter is very ill and injured, but that her husband beat her because he believes she was committing adultery. In the middle of his rant against his son-in-law and his own poor judgment in arranging the marriage, Dante’s stepmother comes into the room.

My stepmother smiled at Ser Folco. “I presume you’ve come to take your stricken daughter home. This scandalous arrangement can’t end a moment too soon.”

Ser Folco stopped in his tracks and stared at her. “Scandalous? You dare call human decency scandalous? Have you been speaking with my son-in-law Simone de ’Bardi? Who knows, perhaps you’re one of the women he’s been sleeping with in secret.”

Monna Lapa gasped and ran out of the room, almost tripping over her skirts.

“She refused to help Bice last night,” I said, hoping she overheard and felt even a smidgen of shame.

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

“When she saw me carrying Bice into the spare bedroom, she accused me of bringing her there for illicit purposes. Thank God, my eight-year-old sister volunteered her feminine assistance without complaining.”

“I’d be more than happy to give you one of my maidservants,” Ser Folco said. “It’s not fair to make a child provide all the assistance.” He pulled his cloak tighter around himself. “I think my business here is just about concluded. Praise Christ no one harmed Bice when she was walking alone at night, and that she collapsed where she did, when she did. I don’t want to think about what might’ve happened to her in different circumstances.”

I saw Ser Folco to the door while my siblings went to eat their morning meal. Once I bid him farewell, I dashed upstairs to check on Beatrice.

She was still deep in sleep, and her face hadn’t lost any of its redness. I made the sign of the cross over her, sank onto my knees, and began reciting every Biblical story and prayer I could think of about healing. All our days are numbered, but I couldn’t bear the thought of my immaculate dream being taken away before she was even midway our life’s journey.

WeWriWa—Ser Folco reacts

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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 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 comes a bit after last week’s excerpt, when Beatrice’s father Folco came to the house. Beatrice has been in the house since last night, very ill and injured, and now in a deep sleep. Each successive detail about the situation shocks Ser Folco more and more, and he’s about to learn the most unexpected thing of all.

“Now that I know you’re in complete agreement with me about Simone being cruel and sinful, there’s one more important thing I must tell you. Bice said he beat her because he believes she’s been committing adultery with me.”

Ser Folco jumped up and paced back and forth, his fists clenched and his face white. I sat terror-stricken for those long silent minutes, praying he didn’t believe the accusation. Beatrice’s reputation would be destroyed if this wild story began circulating, and it weren’t as though Fiorenza was known for being a city full of virtuous people.

“I cannot believe I married Bice off to that pearl among men or even considered him as a suitable husband for any of my daughters. Cilia and I didn’t raise adulteresses.” He fixed his gaze upon mine. “I would vouch for your character to anyone. There’s absolutely no proof of such an accusation, and all of Fiorenza would know about it by now if you were having an affair.”

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

The tight, invisible grip on my insides slowly loosened. “You have no idea how relieved I am to hear you don’t believe it. I would swear before Christ I’ve never been alone with Bice since she was married, and when we used to walk alone in your garden as children, nothing inappropriate ever happened.” Given the severity of de Bardi’s accusation, I had no desire to give it any credence by admitting I kissed and caressed her before the wedding. “Anyone who’s seen us interacting or heard us speaking since her marriage knows we behave with the utmost propriety, without a single hint of an illicit relationship.”

“Perhaps Mone made that accusation to cover up his own adultery. People often privately commit sins they loudly preach against and accuse others of. God knows, we live in a very sinful city. It wouldn’t surprise me to learn Mone slept with other women in secret.” Ser Folco began pacing back and forth again. “Mone and I will have many things to talk about when he returns, including annulment. If the law won’t punish him, we will. He can’t behave so inhumanly and slander Bice’s character without any consequences.”

Ser Folco continued ranting against de ’Bardi and cursing his own poor judgment, calling de ’Bardi the foulest, the most insulting words ever hurled at any scoundrel. I nodded my assent to each and every curse. In the middle of his righteous tirade, Francesco, Tana, and Monna Lapa came into the library.

WeWriWa—Ser Folco arrives

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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 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 comes right after last week’s excerpt, when the family manservant Galfrido (an entirely fictional character) returned to the house with Beatrice’s father Folco, whom he was asked to summon. Beatrice has been in the house since last night, very ill and injured, and now in a deep sleep.

“Please have a seat, Ser Folco,” I said. “Our conversation may last a long time.”

“Do you need money?” he asked. “Are your in-laws no longer providing financial assistance now that you’re a widower? Some filial loyalty and Christian decency.”

I shook my head. “It’s hardly a secret that my family has had problems with money for some time, but we’re still able to live fairly comfortably regardless. We just have to go without things like private tutors for my brother and multiple servants. Don’t you know me better than to think I’d ask you for money? I’m not a shameless beggar.”

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

Ser Folco lowered himself onto the red velvet cushioned bench opposite the chairs. “What do you want my assistance with, if it’s not money?”

I had a seat to his right. “Were you aware that your son-in-law Simone de ’Bardi recently sailed for Cyprus on business?”

“Yes, we discussed the voyage and what he’d be doing at our Cypriot office for several months in advance. Manetto, Ricovero, and a number of other relatives accompanied him.” He looked at me closely. “I wasn’t aware you had a close friendship with Mone.”

My insides clenched as I recalled yet again what that demon had done to the lady I love most of all in this world. “I barely speak to him or see him. We don’t attend the same church or live in the same neighborhood, and he’s never invited me to his home. The few times I’ve encountered him were at your home when we were both guests.” I fought off a wave of bile rising up my throat.

WeWriWa—The morning arrives

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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 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.

I’m skipping ahead a few pages from last week’s excerpt. Beatrice has spent the night in the house after collapsing from illness and injury, and then falling into a very deep sleep. Because she’s too severely and extensively injured for bloodletting, her only course of treatment thus far has been cold rags to bring her body temperature down.

The moment the first slivers of light began breaking across the sky, I jumped out of bed, ran upstairs to Galfrido’s room, and pounded upon his door. In all the years he’d worked for my family, I’d never awoken him or taken advantage of my authority over him, but urgent times necessitated unusual measures.

Galfrido opened the door and rubbed the sleep from his eyes. Without wasting a moment, I firmly grasped his left arm and pulled him into the hallway.

”You must hasten at once to Ser Folco’s house and tell him to come here,” I said. “Say there’s a very complicated, sensitive situation I need to discuss with him, but don’t provide any details. If I had the money, I’d pay you extra for inconveniencing yourself last night and this morning.”

“There’s no inconvenience in the life of a servant,” Galfrido said as he adjusted his cloak. “Doing as my master demands is just how my life is ordered. It doesn’t feel like a hardship or annoyance to me, since I’ve never known anything different.”

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

He pulled his hood over his head. “I’ll return as soon as I can. God willing, Monna Bice will still be in this world.”

After he departed, I hurried to Beatrice’s room and peered in. Now that it was daylight, I saw how red and rashy her face was. It wasn’t merely flushed, as I’d interpreted it last night. To make sure she still drew breath, I entered the room and put my right thumb and forefinger over the veins in her neck. Praise God, there was a pulse.

Since there was nothing else I could do to help her, I went downstairs into the library and took my favorite book off the shelf. Though I knew The Aeneid by heart, reading it offered a more intense, personal connection to my dear Virgil’s ancient words than recalling them in my head or reciting them aloud. And even if I still failed to find solace in them for want of being preoccupied by the turmoil seething in my life, I nevertheless loved the full-page illustrations, fancy letters, and little drawings in the margins.

The door creaked open just as Aeneas had lost his dear Creusa. I shut the book and stood up to face Ser Folco, who walked ahead of Galfrido.

WeWriWa—Dr. Salvetti’s initial suggestions

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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 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 comes right after last week’s excerpt. Dr. Salvetti has come to the house to treat Beatrice, who unexpectedly collapsed outside alone at night, very ill and injured. Because Dante’s stepmother wants nothing to do with this situation, his much-younger halfsister Tana has agreed to assist.

Tana took my hand, and we walked down the hall to the ladies’ guest room. Dr. Salvetti sat in a chair, rubbing his temples. Despite the lack of natural light, I could see his face was pale.

“The lady has a very weak pulse and heartbeat, her skin is alarmingly hot, and her eyes aren’t very responsive,” he reported. “I believe she’ll outlive the night and eventually recover, but it’s of vital importance that she stay right where she is. Her condition could deteriorate if she’s moved. I also suggest summoning a priest for Last Rites tomorrow, just to be safe.”

I bowed my head. “Do you still want to record her injuries? My sister is willing to help us.”

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

“Yes, that would be very much appreciated.” Dr. Salvetti smiled at Tana. “Can you remind me of your name?”

“Gaetana, but everyone calls me Tana.”

“Your brother and I will stand outside the door while you help his lady friend with undressing. I need you to tell me what kind of injuries she has and where they are. If you’re able to, it would also be a great big help if you could try lifting her up or rolling her over to check her back. Since she was able to walk here and put her arms around your brother’s neck, I doubt any of her limbs are broken.”

“Should I help her put on a sleep chemise afterwards?”

“That won’t be necessary, as long as she’s covered by a sheet. People with very high temperatures need to cool down, and that means wearing little to no clothes. But you can help with putting cold rags on her skin.”

Dr. Salvetti stood up, walked out of the room, and turned his back. I also turned my back, though I stayed as close to the door as possible. To make sure I wouldn’t accidentally see anything forbidden, I both closed my eyes and covered them.

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