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 an 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 a bit after last week’s, when Dante came home from school to find the family tailor. His father said he earned extra money from an unexpected new source of business, and announced plans for using the rest of their windfall. He then gave Dante a bag of florins to use on sweets and a new book.
The phrases “the richness of the choice” and “[Name] agonized long and hard over the richness of the choice” are among my trademarks that crop up in just about every single book I’ve ever written. Though it comes from the 18th century French erotic novel Thérèse Philosophe, I usually don’t use it in erotic contexts!
After Ser Landolfo took all my measurements, I had the delightful task of looking at the richness of the choice contained in the many bottles. Most of the dyes and pigments were beautiful, distinctive, arresting colors, but not all of them were my favorites, and some didn’t seem as if they’d look good on me. I also needed to choose colors which weren’t too dark and thus wouldn’t absorb too much heat during the coming summer months.
All the same, I didn’t know when I’d next get the chance to have new clothes made, and it weren’t as though my existing clothes were terrible or worthy of a lowly peasant. Lightweight fabrics like linen and cotton would also keep me comfortable in heat. With all these factors considered, I finally selected light teal, Byzantine blue, and scarlet for tunics, and blue-grey, charcoal grey, and pale green for hose.
“Can you make the blue and teal tunics in linen, and the scarlet one in wool?” I asked.
“I always endeavor to please my customers,” Ser Landolfo said. “All these garments should be ready by the time you leave for Fiesole. I’ll return for a fitting a few days beforehand.”
The ten lines end here. A few more follow to finish the scene.
“We very much appreciate your services,” Babbo said. “If my business continues improving, I may summon you again next year. Perhaps I’ll eventually be able to justify the cost of silver and gold embroidery or luxury fabrics.”
While Babbo counted out Ser Landolfo’s fee, I picked up the bag with my precious florins and went upstairs to my room. As magnificent as it was to have new clothes tailored, studying Latin grammar was even more important. Fine clothes might impress a certain type of person, but a fine mind was even more impressive, and would be there regardless of what types of garments I donned.